Is The UN’s New Plan for Cholera in Haiti Simply A Re-Branding?

Last week United Nations secretary Ban Ki-moon announced that the organization would be rolling out a new multi-billion dollar program to help wipe out cholera in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Many say that the U.N. was originally responsible for the outbreak of cholera in those countries, having brought peacekeeping troops infected with the disease into the country in 2010. Prior to that, Haiti had never suffered an outbreak of cholera.

Critics of the announced plan are accusing the U.N. of simply re-defining the terms of the current cholera aid. According to Aljazeera, the U.N will provide only $23.5 million of new money, though its plan calls for $2.2 billion in support over the next decade. Some $215 million in support had already been pledged towards the cause, with the U.N. announcement simply restating prior donations from Japan, Spain, the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank.

“That’s [new plan] the same old stuff that they try to bring to Haiti, the same old stuff that has not been working. The UN knows fully-well that they are responsible for cholera in Haiti,” said Haitian radio host Jean Yves Point-du Jo In fact, if the UN were a country, Ban Ki-moon should have been in The Hague, in the jail cell for crimes committed against humanity.”

Almost 8,000 lives have been claimed by the Caribbean outbreak of cholera over the last two years. Both independent and UN-appointed researchers have deemed the U.N.’s peacekeeping troops responsible for the outbreak, something the organization still refuses to take responsibility for. Hundreds of troops were sent into the country from Nepal in October 2010 to aid with earthquake relief.

“In the future, historians will look back and say, ‘Wow, that’s unfortunate,’ ” Dr. Paul Farmer, co-founder of nongovernmental health care provider Partners in Health, told the New York Times earlier this year. “This unfolded right under the noses of all those NGOs. And they will ask, ‘Why didn’t they try harder? Why didn’t they throw the kitchen sink at cholera in Haiti?’”

The announcement may be a simple play to appear more conscious of the ongoing epidemic, but with such a small percentage of the money needed for proper aid available, the program may prove empty in the long term.

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