Via The Guardian: Haiti's deadly cholera outbreak 'a stain on our reputation', UN says. Excerpt:
The cholera outbreak that killed more than 9,000 Haitians after it was spread by peacekeepers has been a stain on the UN’s reputation, the world body admitted on Thursday, as it set out long-awaited plans for eliminating the disease from the country.
The announcement of the strategy – unveiled as the UN’s outgoing secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, bids to leave a global health legacy – was overshadowed by question marks about its funding and disappointment in some quarters at what was perceived as a failure to offer an unqualified apology.
The world body had doggedly refused to address the issue of how its own peacekeepers, relocated from Nepal to Haiti in 2010 following a major earthquake, brought the deadly cholera bacterium with them.
A first tacit admission of blame came in August, but the UN’s “explicit and unqualified denial of anything other than a moral responsibility” was subsequently branded a disgrace by its own human rights special rapporteur.
A strategy unveiled on Thursday by the UN focuses on long-term issues including water, sanitation and health systems, as well as the development of a package of material assistance and support to those Haitians most directly affected by cholera.
“The people of Haiti deserve this tangible expression of our respect and solidarity, as well as our regret, and the genuine support that comes with it,” said the organisation.
“The United Nations should seize this opportunity to address this tragedy which has also negatively affected its reputation and global mission.”
The UN endeavours to deploy “responsible peace operations that operate at minimum risk to people, societies and ecosystems”, said the statement, which described the cholera outbreak as “a stain on our reputation”.
In a reference to the simmering levels of anger directed towards the UN by many in Haiti, the statement conceded: “The package is not likely to fully satisfy all those who have been calling for such a step, nor will it happen overnight. However, the secretary general has concluded that it is better to take this step than not to.”
Ban, the document said, “wishes to propose a solution, not leave an unresolved problem, for his successor”.
However, a lack of finance may inhibit the delivery of the package. The announcement conceded that efforts to tackle the outbreak have been undermined by insufficient funding.