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Dodging Haiti Claims, UN Devotes $23.5M, Unclear if to Victims or DPKO Reforms

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 11 -- With the legal claims seeking redress for the UN introducing cholera into Haiti still pending in the UN Office of Legal Affairs, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday announced an "Initiative for the Elimination of Cholera in Haiti," and devoted $23.5 million of UN money to it.

Afterward, Inner City Press asked the UN's deputy envoy to Haiti Nigel Fisher if any of those funds are devoted to victims, including families of those killed by the introduction of cholera. Fisher said all of the funds "go to Haitians," but he declined to address accountability, repeating that it is a legal matter on which he cannot comment. As noted, this is morally bankrupt.

  On the other hand, Ban referred to other donors' $215 million, and trying to raise more.

  Also looking forward, Inner City Press asked Fisher if the Department of Peacekeeping Operations has implemented any changes at all to try to ensure that it doesn't happen again, the transport of peacekeepers from an area with cholera to a UN mission.

  Fisher said he could only speak for the mission in Haiti, not for DPKO. The head of DPKO Herve Ladsous was present at Ban's launching of the initiative, and his spokesman was upstairs watching the Fisher stakeout. But no answer was given, no new safeguard described.

While this seem consistent with other recent stonewalling by DPKO, on issues ranging from implementation of the UN's supposed Human Rights Due Diligence Policy in Eastern Congo to even "what is the UN's role in Abyei," Inner City Press for today is not digging deeper into the seeming dysfunction atop DPKO. But questions will continue to be asked.

 On Monday, Inner City Press asked the UN about protests of MINUSTAH for this stonewalling. Tuesday the following came in:

From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Tue, Dec 11, 2012 at 10:26 AM
Subject: Your question on Haiti
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

The UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) has informed us that a group of around 50 people staged a protest in front of its premises in Port-au-Prince yesterday. The protest lasted for less than an hour and ended peacefully.

  How very civilized. Inner City Press also asked Fisher what the UN is going about impending forced evictions. A lot, he said. We hope so.

Update of December 12 - at Tuesday's noon briefing, 18 hours after Nigel Fisher said he could not describe screening reforms for DPKO, and DPKO heard the questions, Inner City Press went to the noon briefing and asked again. Spokesman Martin Nesirky said he will "ask DPKO." But they already heard the question and should have answered it already. Now we'll see. Watch this site.

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