Lawmaker warns inadequate disaster relief funding could worsen Haiti’s current cholera epidemic
Washington (October 18, 2016) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), top Democrat on the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy, today called the United Nations (UN) effort to remedy the humanitarian crisis in Haiti following Hurricane Matthew grossly inadequate. Approximately 546 people have been killed as a result of the deadly storm, 438 injured, and 128 are missing. At least 2.1 million people in Haiti have been affected by Hurricane Matthew’s damage, with more than 1.4 million in need of assistance. Despite UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s immediate appeal for $120 million to aid the emergency effort, only five percent has been raised, totaling little more than $6 million. Meanwhile, the people of Haiti continue to suffer from food insecurity, limited access to clean drinking water, crippled sanitation infrastructure, and fear the ever-growing threat of cholera. There are reports of 477 new suspected cases of cholera that have emerged since the hurricane hit the country.
“The United Nations and its member countries are utterly failing to meet the dire needs of the people of Haiti in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. Providing adequate and accelerated relief to people suffering from food insecurity and a cholera epidemic isn’t simply a matter of moral obligation but of human decency.
“The people of Haiti have waited long enough for a meaningful UN response to the cholera epidemic they created by introducing the disease to Haiti during 2010 earthquake response operations. We need the UN to serve as a forceful, hands-on leader of the hurricane relief effort, and we need Member States to immediately step up and participate with robust financial support. This is the very least we can do for the Haitian people who are suffering in great part due to UN negligence.”
Last week, the UN also outlined its two-track plan to remedy Haiti’s public health emergency. The UN’s announcement neglected to underline the importance of broadly expanded Member State support, lacked a formal apology to the people of Haiti, the victims of cholera and their families, and failed to mention any financial adjudication of claims against the organization for those impacted by the outbreak.
Earlier this year, Senator Markey called on the United Nations to publicly apologize for their role in the cholera outbreak and subsequent epidemic, provide material resources to end the threat of the disease in Haiti and deliver financial assistance to victims and their families that were affected by the epidemic.