Haiti: Letter to Organize Support for U.N. Cholera Initiative

February 21, 2013

On Wednesday February 20, 2013, Representative Conyers and four other Members of Congress sent a letter to Susan Rice, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, encouraging her to urge the United Nations (UN) to support an initiative aimed at eliminating the deadly cholera epidemic in Haiti.

According to the letter, a plan for eliminating cholera in Haiti was developed in November of last year by the Haitian government, international organizations, and U.S. agencies. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced his support of the plan two months ago. But months later there are no signs that its implementation has begun: only 10% of the funding has been secured and only 1% of this funding has been pledged by the UN. The UN bears responsibility for introducing cholera to Haiti.

The letter insists that the UN must take action to eliminate cholera in Haiti, and urges Rice to communicate to the Secretary-General and other key UN actors the urgency of full funding and speedy implementation of this initiative.

To view the letter to Ambassador Rice, see: Letter to UN Ambassador on Cholera Initiative

Two years after the outbreak of cholera in Haiti, access to clean water and sanitation is desperately needed

October 23, 2012

A variety of human rights groups, faith-based organizations, policy institutes and humanitarian organizations have released a statement on the second anniversary of Haiti’s cholera outbreak, renewing their call for the United Nations and U.S. government to help control the ongoing epidemic. Since the outbreak in October 2010, 7,564 Haitians have died from cholera, with some 600,000 reported cases of infection. Signatories are asking specifically for the United Nations and U.S. government to help Haiti install vital clean water and sanitation infrastructure. According to the World Health Organization, individuals without access to these amenities constitute the majority of cholera cases.

Click here to read the statement.

Read the rest of this entry »

Toll from Isaac Still Ongoing as Spike in Cholera is Predicted

September 5, 2012

Twenty one human rights, faith-based, and humanitarian organizations, including Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office, released a statement today calling on the United Nations to take responsibility for the deadly cholera epidemic in Haiti. This statement comes in the aftermath of tropical storm Isaac, which reportedly killed at least twenty four people and caused flooding. But due to the lack of clean water and sanitation infrastructure, the disease could spread further increasing the toll on human life. The letter states:

Local authorities expect cholera levels to spike after the rains and flash flooding brought by Isaac. When Haiti experienced heavy rainfall last April, cholera levels increased.  The lack of adequate sanitation and safe drinking water in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps means that drinking water sources are likely to be contaminated by waste water when flooding occurs.  According to medical experts, if the multitudes of Haitians living in camps are left without access to a potable water source, Isaac could carry contaminated water to new locations and exacerbate what is already a complex emergency.  The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs recently reported a “very weak” “capacity to respond to potential outbreaks,” such as could occur with a drenching tropical storm.

The statement also urges U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, to respond to a July letter from 104 members of Congress asking Amb. Rice to act decisively to address Haiti’s cholera crisis.

Click here to read the statement.

The statement was signed by the following organizations:

Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti; Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office; American Jewish World Service; TransAfrica; Church World Service; Life for Relief and Development; Management Sciences for Health; Operation USA; The Haiti Support Group; Alternative Chance; Other Worlds; Environmental Justice Initiative for Haiti; Government Accountability Project; Hastings to Haiti Partnership, University of California, Hastings College of the Law; Human Rights Clinic, University  of Miami School of Law; Unitarian Universalists Service Committee; Grassroots International; Gender Action; Canada Haiti Action Network; Haiti Fund at The Boston Foundation; National Lawyers Guild International Committee

Baseball in the Time of Cholera screening

July 19, 2012

On Wednesday, July 18, an important film screening and discussion was held in Congress.  Co-produced by actress Olivia Wilde, and awarded Best Documentary Short at the Tribeca Film Festival, “Baseball in the Time of Cholera” documents Haiti’s cholera epidemic through the eyes and voice of a young baseball player.  It provides a powerful insight into the tragedy and scandal of this crisis, as well as the hope and resilience of the Haitian people.

The public release of this film coincided with the delivery of a letter, signed by 104 members of the U.S. Congress, to Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.  The letter requests that Ambassador Rice urge the world body to act decisively to address Haiti’s cholera crisis.  MCC has joined other Human Rights groups, faith-based organizations and NGOs in commending this letter.  “Members of Congress have joined a growing chorus calling for UN authorities to work with Haiti’s government and the Haitian people to confront and ultimately eliminate cholera,” said Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach, director of MCC US Washington Office.

“Baseball in the Time of Cholera” is approximately half an hour long, and can be viewed below in its entirety.  It can also be watched online at undeny.com, where you can sign a petition calling the UN to accept responsibility for the outbreak and take the lead, logistically and financially, in ending the crisis.

For more background on Haiti’s cholera crisis, read the blog post here.

Cholera crisis in Haiti

June 4, 2012

“It’s really quite disastrous,” said United Nations’ humanitarian coordinator for Haiti, Nigel Fisher, of the cholera crisis in Haiti.  It may actually be an understatement.

Since the outbreak began in 2010, at least 7,200 Haitians have died from the disease and more than 530,000 people have been infected to date. As Haiti’s population is less than ten million, more than 1 in 20 Haitians have already been infected. And the toll is expected to soar with the onset of the rainy season. The Pan American Health Organization stated that the current Haiti crisis “has become one of the largest cholera epidemics in modern history.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that cholera will likely persist in Haiti absent the development of water and sanitation systems, the cost of which has been estimated at $800 million to $1.1 billion.

Cholera was introduced to Haiti by United Nation troops.  As such, it is imperative for the UN to now act decisively to control the cholera epidemic, and eliminate this deadly disease from Haiti and the rest of the island of Hispaniola.  A failure to act will lead to countless more deaths and infections in Haiti and its neighboring countries, and will ultimately undermine the crucial effort to reconstruct Haiti.

A letter is currently circulating in Congress calling on Susan Rice, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, to urge the UN to take the leadership role in addressing the cholera epidemic in Haiti.  You can contact your Representative today and encourage them to sign this letter.

In addition, the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti has also initiated a petition calling the UN to accept responsibility for the outbreak and take the lead, logistically and financially, in ending the crisis.  To sign the petition, go to undeny.org.


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