Just Foreign Policy Launches Haiti Cholera Counter to Press UN to Take Lead in Addressing Crisis

For Immediate Release
May 29, 2012

Media Contacts:
Robert Naiman, 217-979-2957, naiman@justforeignpolicy.org
Megan Iorio, 908-400-9480, iorio@justforeignpolicy.org

Washington DC, May 29 - It has been 591 days since Jean Salgadeau Pelette died on October 16, 2010. Pelette is considered to be the first victim of the ongoing cholera epidemic in Haiti, which began when UN troops from South Asia carried the bacteria to the previously cholera-free nation. Since then, an estimated 546,955 Haitians have fallen ill and 7,172 have died, according to Just Foreign Policy's new web counter.

Yet, not only has the UN refused to accept formal responsibility, but it has done little to help treat, prevent, and control the disease.

"The failure of the United Nations to lead in addressing the cholera crisis in Haiti would be outrageous enough, even if the UN had nothing to do with bringing cholera to Haiti," said Robert Naiman, Policy Director of Just Foreign Policy. "The role of UN troops in sparking the crisis makes the UN's failure to act scandalous."

In an effort to pressure the UN to take responsibility, Just Foreign Policy has launched a new online initiative to raise awareness of the ongoing cholera crisis in Haiti. The campaign includes a counter that tracks the number of days that have passed since UN troops brought cholera to Haiti and estimates the current number of cases and deaths that have been caused by the disease. The source for these figures is le Ministère de la Santé Publique et de la Population (MSPP). An accompanying petition urges the UN to make an official apology, compensate victims, and take a leadership role in addressing the resulting public health crisis by ensuring implementation of efficient treatment and prevention of the epidemic and by helping Haiti acquire adequate water and sanitation infrastructure to prevent the spread of cholera.

Just Foreign Policy is also asking concerned US citizens to tell their Representatives in Congress to sign Rep. John Conyers' letter to UN Ambassador Susan Rice urging UN authorities to play a central role in addressing Haiti's cholera epidemic.

As Nigel Fisher, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Haiti, has admitted, the international community is only doing "patchwork, band-aid work" in addressing the fundamental issue underlying Haiti's cholera crisis: the country's inadequate water and sanitation infrastructure. And just last week, John Ging of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that budget cuts are causing cholera deaths. With the onset of the rainy season, and a revelation from the CDC that cholera in Haiti is evolving into two strains, the UN must act-or have the deaths of hundreds or thousands more Haitians on their hands.

"We will continue to put the UN's failure to take responsibility in the public eye until the UN takes decisive action," Naiman said.

Just Foreign Policy's Haiti Cholera Counter may be found here:
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/haiti-cholera-counter

The accompanying petition is here:
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/un-responsibility-haiti

The text of the Conyers letter is here:
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/1218

Just Foreign Policy's action on the Conyers letter:
http://justforeignpolicy.org/act/conyers-letter-cholera

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Just Foreign Policy is a nonprofit nonpartisan advocacy organization that works to reform U.S. foreign policy so that it reflects the values and interests of the majority of Americans. For further information see, go to http://www.justforeignpolicy.org.