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On Haiti Cholera, UN Ignores Study & Spike in Cases, Thanks Press for Asking

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 29 -- After the UN tersely denied the legal claims of thousands killed by the cholera the UN brought into Haiti, its spokesperson and its chief legal counsel Patricia O'Brien have told Inner City Press they have nothing more to say.

But because of how this conflicts with the rules of law and with accountability, both of which the UN preaches, Inner City Press has kept on asking, on July 26 and again today, July 29, about a new study and a new spike in cholera cases.

From the July 26 UN transcript:

Inner City Press: I’m sure you’ve seen the report put out by the four scientists who did the UN’s initial study of cholera in Haiti, and they’ve now issued a second report. They’re no longer in the employ of the UN. And they say that new evidence shows that it was pretty conclusively that the UN brought cholera to Haiti. So I wanted to know, since the UN has relied on their previous findings so much, what do they say to this new study? I’m hoping that you can say some way that it either relates to or changes in some way or just how should we read it in connection with the UN dismissing the claims on behalf of 5,000 people killed by the cholera.

Deputy Spokesperson Eduardo Del Buey: No, the claims continue to be not receivable. That said, as we have stated consistently since the beginning of the crisis, the Secretary-General and the UN remain fully committed to address the situation of cholera in Haiti. Significant progress has been made, mortality rates are down, we have been distributing all kinds of water purification kits, and we’ve been doing infrastructural work, building latrines, we’ve been distributing vaccines and we are also working very closely with the Haitian authorities to educate the Haitian people on how to avoid the spread of cholera. The Secretary-General continues to press Member States and philanthropic organizations to increase their contributions. The contributions for this year have only reached 23 per cent of the asking. We’re working very assiduously with Member States and philanthropic organizations to ensure that this money is received this year so that we can continue with this work. Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.  Have a good weekend.

  That was the UN's line, that the claims of thousands of people killed were "not receivable." It's a model of unaccountability. But it is this UN's line.

On Monday, July 29, Inner City Press asked about a spike in cases:

Inner City Press: The Haitian Government has acknowledged that there’s been a spike in cholera just literally this month, they’ve put out statistics. And so I wanted to ask you this. You’d said on Friday, and I understood that nothing is changed by the new report, by the people that studied cholera before now, saying that the UN did bring it, but given the commitment that you expressed on Friday by the Secretary-General, is the UN going to release numbers? Does it keep track of the actual progress in terms of either decreasing or in this case, it’s been increasing, cholera in the country? What does it say about these new statistics that, despite the calls for funds, etcetera, that the problem seems to be getting worse?

Deputy Spokesperson Del Buey: Well, as storms arrive, obviously, the possibility of contamination of water rises. The UN is working very hard with the resources it has to put together a plan to help combat and eventually eradicate cholera from Haiti. As I said on Friday, I think our appeal has subscribed to 23 per cent, so obviously, we depend on the generosity of Member States and the generosity of philanthropic organizations to provide the funding, so that the UN, through PAHO [Pan American Health Organization], through the World Health Organization and through other organizations, can carry out this very important work. I’ll leave it at that. Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.

So each day the UN thanks Inner City Press for asking about Haiti. The questions will continue. And there are lawsuits coming. Watch this site.


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