Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Stephen Lewis: The UN’s Broken Promises in Haiti

Stephen Lewis comments on the UN’s failure to live up to its promises in response to Haiti’s cholera crisis. The UN’s inability to raise $400 million to eliminate cholera that its won brought to the country and compensate victims, “It’s a complete travesty,” said AIDS-Free World Stephen Lewis. Watch Lewis’s address below:

Full video transcription

“Please bear with me as I tell you a sad story about the United Nations. It remains and institution to which I am, ideologically committed, but I feel as though that commitment is betrayed with unwelcome regularity. Back on December the 1st, 2016, Ban-Ki Moon, the then Secretary General in the last month of his ten-year tenure, in an unprecedented way, apologized to the people of Haiti for the failure of the United Nations to deal adequately with the cholera epidemic. An epidemic that had killed ten thousand people and 800,000 thousand additional people fell ill. 

Of course, what Ban-Ki Moon didin’t do, and he never did, was to admit that the cholera epidemic had been brought to Haiti by United Nations Peacekeeping forces from Nepal. Around the time of the apology, as the UN was pulling itself together, there was announced a $400 million fund from the United Nations to address the consequences of cholera. 

$200 million would go to water and sanitation to end the prospect of cholera forever and $200 million dollars would go to individuals and families and communities through what they called “material assistance” in order to deal with the grievous consequences of the cholera. 

Well, the results of that effort and in last week, up to this point. And, here they are. The UN has raised $8.7 millions dollars. That is to say, 2.2% of the total. And if you throw in some additional money from Canada and Japan, which went to United Nations agencies instead of to the government of Haiti, you get to 3.9%. It’s a complete travesty. That’s what I mean by a betrayal.

But what is even more painful, is that Ban-Ki Moon lied and he knew he was lying. He had never told the truth of the source of the cholera, through the previous six years, as people begged him to do so. He was always hiding behind the immunity of the United Nations. But, he knew when he made the apology, that the $400 million would never be raised.

As a matter of fact, he said at the time, that if the money couldn’t come voluntarily from the governments, he would consider applying it through the assess contribution. That is to say, the core budget of the United Nations. But of course, that never happened either. 

Now, the new Secretary General, Antonio Guterres has made a couple of excellent rhetorical speeches but has never put his shoulder to the wheel to raise the money that Haiti so desperately needs. 

You know, there’s a kind of sickness that is starting to pervade the overall leadership of the United Nations. The need for principled, ethical, and intellectual behavior is somehow constantly wanting and we need it badly. It’s just not there.

That was last week, I’m Stephen Lewis.”

 

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