UN apologizes for Haiti cholera and calls for US$400 million to address crisis

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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visits temporary shelter for victims of Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe (file photo)

The United Nations has apologized for its response to the cholera outbreak in Haiti that claimed more than 9,000 lives and has pledged to provide both immediate and long-term support for those affected.

Over the last six years, cholera has afflicted nearly 800,000 people on the Caribbean island.

Daniel Dickinson has more details

Speaking at the UN on Thursday, the Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon apologized for the loss of life and suffering caused by the cholera outbreak in Haiti.

"On behalf of the United Nations, I want to say very clearly: we apologize to the Haitian people. We simply did not do enough with regard to the cholera outbreak and its spread in Haiti. We are profoundly sorry for our role."

He added that the outbreak had cast a "shadow on the relationship" between the United Nations and the people of Haiti.

"It is a blemish on the reputation of UN peacekeeping and the Organization world-wide. For the sake of the Haitian people, but also for the sake of the United Nations itself, we have a moral responsibility to act. And we have a collective responsibility to deliver."

The overall incidence of the disease has been reduced by approximately 90 per cent since its peak in 2011, but Mr Ban said cholera "continues to take a heavy toll on the Haitian people."

The UN has asked international donors for US$400 million to fund what it has called a two-track response.

It will include a substantially intensified effort to respond to, and reduce, the incidence of cholera in Haiti.

At the same time, the UN is intensifying support to the Haitian Government in building sound water, sanitation and health systems, to serve as the "best long-term defence" against cholera and other water-borne diseases.

Daniel Dickinson, United Nations

Duration: 1’36″

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