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CONTACT: Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA)
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167
Two Years after Haiti Earthquake: UN Cholera Epidemic Rages as Situation in Camps Deteriorates
WASHINGTON - January 11 - Thursday marks two years since a devastating earthquake hit Haiti.
MICHELE MITCHELL, michele.mitchell at filmat11.tv; also via Jennie Walker, jennie.walker at filmat11.tv
Mitchell is the producer of “Haiti: Where Did the Money Go?” premiering this month on PBS stations nationwide. Mitchell said, “Half of all U.S. households donated $1.4 billion to major charities specifically for relief. But after hundreds of millions have been spent, there are still over half a million people living in squalid conditions. There are fewer working latrines today — not to mention fewer latrines. No water delivery. Malnutrition is on the rise. And the Haitians living in these tent cities are in a kind of purgatory — they have no idea when they are getting out, or even if things will ever get better.”
MARK WEISBROT, mweisbrot at cepr.net; also via Dan Beeton, beeton at cepr.net
Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research and co-author of a chapter in the new book, Tectonic Shifts: Haiti Since the Earthquake. He said today: “The budget for UN troops in Haiti is eight times the amount of the UN’s cholera appeal. It was UN troops who brought cholera to Haiti. The UN should use some of its money, designated for keeping the Haitian people safe, to fight cholera. Keeping people safe should include keeping them safe from disease and death, but the ongoing epidemic — made worse by an appalling lack of sanitation and drinking water – threatens the lives of thousands more people.” For more see: Tectonic Shifts: Haiti Since the Earthquake
BRIAN CONCANNON, JR., Brian at ijdh.org; also via Nicole Phillips, Nicole at ijdh.org
Concannon, director of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, which filed a lawsuit against the UN in November on behalf of over 5,000 victims of cholera, said today: “The United Nations’ own report establishes that UN peacekeepers introduced cholera to Haiti. The UN should respond justly to these facts by providing the clean water and sanitation infrastructure necessary to control the cholera epidemic. Instead, the UN has denied and delayed while Haitians sicken and die. The MINUSTAH [UN] cholera epidemic is the world’s worst cholera epidemic, killing an average of 200 Haitians per month and sickening over 25,000. The UN’s defense — that the weakness of Haiti’s health and water infrastructure relieves it of responsibility — would be laughed out of court if the UN ever let itself be brought before an independent tribunal.”
NICOLE LEE, nlee at transafrica.org also via Joia Nuri, jnuri at transafrica.org,
Lee is the president of TransAfrica. She said today: “We must learn from the mistakes of the first two years of this recovery effort. Without the active participation of Haitians themselves, no amount of money can bring the kind of changes Haiti needs to resolve the problems that have plagued the most marginalized populations since even before the earthquake. It is disturbing to see the same status quo being reinforced by the various humanitarian actors on the ground today, despite the vibrant network of Haitian community and grassroots groups that exist without the support they need to have more long-reaching success. We join our Haitian partners in calling for oversight of NGOs and government funds, including investigations into where the money donated in their names has gone.”
MELINDA MILES, melinda at lethaitilive.org,
Miles is the founder and director of Let Haiti Live, and a contributor to the new book, Tectonic Shifts: Haiti Since the Earthquake. She said today: “Decisions made in the earliest days of the recovery haunt Haiti’s internally displaced to this day. Fundamental and internationally accepted minimum standards for disaster victims were never adhered to, and now two years after the quake the humanitarian community has spent billions of dollars without meeting some of the most critical goals they set. Despite planning 125,000 transitional shelters for the end of the first year, 100,000 still have not been built two years later. While Haitians have been excluded from decision making and haven’t had access to basic information about donations and recovery plans, efforts led by Haitian organizations continue to be the most successful.”