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On Haiti, ICP Asks Venezuela of UN Silence, He Worries of Coup, Cites CELAC

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 12 --  The UN and its MINUSTAH mission in Haiti have been quiet but broke radio silence on February 6, to "note with concern the organized presence of several tens of people in green uniforms, some of them armed." To this has the UN in Haiti been reduced.

On February 12, the President of the UN Security Council for February, Rafael Ramirez of Venezuela, held a Q&A session at the Venezuelan Mission to the UN; Inner City Press asked about Haiti (as well as Yemen, Western Sahara and tranparency). As fast transcribed by

Inner City Press: You mentioned Haiti – I haven’t seen the Council do anything. Is there any movement?

Amb. Ramirez: As you know CELAC was there. Our foreign ministers – Venezuela, Ecuador, and another from the Caribbean, Bahamas.. were there.  In our national capacity, we are really worried about Haiti because it’s like they’re changing the constitution to displace Martelly and now a provisional president, and that happened before in Haiti, it was very wrong. We ask to respect the constitution of the country and we expect to have very soon a new election to follow the rule of law, and not more social conflict. Haiti has a lot of problems, and they suffered a lot of political interference from many years ago. The most important is political stability. We are worried to have some kind of coup d’etat, maybe a parliamentary coup d'etat, something like what happened in Paraguay or in Honduras. That process is no good. We know very well that country and that people they are suffering a lot of interference in their political issues. I prefer to wait for CELAC's work to have some reaction from the Security Council.

  Watch this site.

  When the UN of Ban Ki-moon is asked about bringing cholera to Haiti, the answer is usually, “Our position remains unchanged” -- that is, immunity. But when Inner City Press on January 28 asked about a new study that inexpensive precautions could have saved Haitian lives, and could still save lives elsewhere, the UN replied with... a link to a report, Appendix 12 no less. Video here.  From the transcript

Inner City Press:  There's been a pretty detailed study put out by the Yale School of Public Health looking back at the introduction of cholera to Haiti.  And beyond, you know, finding… you know, they believe that it was brought by the UN, this is the part I wanted to ask you about.  They were saying that there's very simple strategies that could be deployed, would have saved lives and would in the future including antibiotic, prophylaxis at a cost of $1 per peacekeeper a week before deployment or screening at a cost of $2.50 per peacekeeper, but they say in their study that neither of these are in place at UN peacekeeping.  Can you… I guess I'm asking you, beyond… you know, the position hasn't changed on Haiti.  Just as a position of UN peacekeeping, given that these highly respected doctors are saying that these very cheap prophylactic measures could save lives, if they're not implemented at the UN, why not?

Spokesman:  Let me take a look at the study, and I'll get back to you.

 And later, this, from the Office of the Spokesperson:

Please see below on your questions at today's Noon Briefing:
1) We refer you to the 2014 Contingent Owned Equipment manual (link below-- please see appendix 12)

This says in part, "It is a national responsibility (and at national expense) to ensure that all personnel have received at least the initial dose of mandatory and recommended vaccinations before deployment into the mission area."

  We'll have more on this.

 The UN of Ban Ki-moon marked the six anniversary of the Haiti earthquake with a statement on January 11 mentioning the “lack of access to clean water and sanitation,” but without a word on the cholera that the UN brought there in the earthquake's wake.

   Two UN Police died in Haiti from December 29 to 30.   The announcement of the deaths came on the website of the MINUSTAH mission.

 Inner City Press asked the UN Spokesperson's office in New York, where UN Peacekeeping is headquartered, for more details but was only referred to the MINUSTAH press release, which did not say the nationality of the decedents (Rwandan) nor their gender (both women). And there has been nothing since, just as the Office of the Spokesperson has not confirmed or denied that UN Peacekeepers in Liberia beat a 13 year old child.

Five years after the UN brought cholera to Haiti, for Human Rights Day, the UN Security Council got letters from 2,000 victims of its peacekeeping mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH. Inner City Press on December 10, Human Rights Day, asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq, video here, transcript here:

Inner City Press: On Haiti, I wanted to ask you, there were… there were two, some 2,000 letters of victims of cholera that were supposed to be delivered today to MINUSTAH [United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti] in Port-au-Prince.  They’ve also been put online to be read, and the request by those turning them in is that they be turned over by MINUSTAH to Security Council members.  And they asked for the Security Council to urge Ban Ki-moon to take responsibility for the introduction of cholera to Haiti and two other points.

Can you comment on the letters?  I understand that the legal position remains the same, but factually, have these letters been received?  And will MINUSTAH or DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations], in fact, transmit these victim letters to Security Council members?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, we need to check, first of all, whether the letters have been formally received by MINUSTAH, and so we’d have to check on that.

TWENTY FOUR hours later, there was NOTHING from the UN. So on December 11, Inner City Press asked again: transcript here:

Inner City Press: On Haiti, yesterday I asked you about these letters that the lawyers suing the UN for having brought cholera to the country.  They say they were delivered to MINUSTAH and you said you'd check to see if they've been received.  Have they been received?

Deputy Spokesman:  Yes, we can confirm that they have been received, and I believe the mission is exploring what to do next with that.

 We'll have more on this.

The cover letter, seen by Inner City Press on December 9 and now online here, asks each of the Security Council's 15 members to

1. Publicly call on the UN Secretary-General to acknowledge UN responsibility for introducing cholera to Haiti and apologize to the Haitian people;

2. Commit to creating a fair framework for providing reparations to victims, and to providing the funds needed to compensate victims. This would fulfill the UN’s international legal obligations and ensure that victims’ right to a remedy is finally recognized;

3. Provide the resources needed to install the water and sanitation infrastructure necessary to eliminate cholera in Haiti. The UN announced its support for plan to eliminate cholera in Haiti in 2012, but the plan has received only 13% of the funding needed. Fundraising hasbeen stalled for over one year. During this time cholera infection rates have increased.

  The cover letter is signed by Inisyativ Victim Kolera Sodo (IVIKSO), Asosyasyon Viktim Kolera Boukan Kare (ASOVIKBO), Òganizasyon Vikim Kolera nan Mibale (OVIKMi), Gwoupman Viktim Kolera Lachapèl (GVIKLA).

 On December 9 at the UN there was a canned discussion of Ban Ki-moon's “Rights Up Front,” formed after another failure, in Sri Lanka. But this all gets erased, even as the UN barely acts amid the killings in Burundi. Impunity, as with the rapes and cover up in the Central African Republic. And now 2,000 letters from Haiti. Will there finally be some accountability?

Back on October 14, on the morning the UN Security Council was poised to renew its MINUSTAH mission's mandate without taking any responsibility for cholera, the portraits of the diseases (and the UN's) victims were placed outside the UN's 43rd Street entrance.

Inner City Press tweeted a photograph, witnessed the Security Council extending the mandate of its MINUSTAH mission in Haiti 15-0 with no comments before or after...

   On a daily basis across from the UN's 43rd Street entrance stands a Haitian journalist; Inner City Press' requests to the UN including former spokesperson Michele Montas to get him re-admitted fell on the UN's deaf ears. Now he wants to know the prospective Haitian military force's size.

  Ban Ki-moon dodged service of legal papers; his spokespeople answer every Press question with the same answer, “Our position hasn't changed.” Well, it should. Now Ban is embroiled in a corruption scandal in which business interests from Macau were able to purchase revisions by the Secretariat in official UN documents. But the UN's Haitian victims are outside the gate.


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