Members of the Haitian-American diaspora penned an open letter to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and United States Secretary of State John Kerry over the cholera outbreak that emerged in Haiti shortly after the 2010 earthquake. More than 150 Haitian-American organizations sent the letter earlier this month, where they expressed “deep outrage at the United Nations’ failure to take responsibility for the cholera epidemic it brought to Haiti.”
The letter pays special focus to the decision in Georges et al v. United Nations et al., a lawsuit brought by cholera victims, where the court decided the UN was not to be held accountable for the disease that spread on the island.
“The UN should not be permitted to evade accountability on this issue,” it stated in the letter. “It is imperative for the U.S. government to ensure the UN complies with its legal obligations to install the water and sanitation infrastructure necessary to control cholera and compensate the victims.”
Among the 154 Diaspora organizations and individuals that signed the letter are author Edwidge Danticat and several political figures including, New York State Assemblypersons Rodneyse Bichotte, Michaelle C. Solages and Kimberly Jean-Pierre. Illinois State Senator Kwame Raoul, MA State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry and Florida State Representative Daphne D. Campbell also signed the letter.
“The UN, like all of us, must be held accountable for their actions, and work to correct the horror this outbreak caused in Haiti,” Nassau County, NY Legislator Carrie Solages said. “Specifically, the UN must install the water and sanitation infrastructure necessary to control cholera and compensate the victims of this epidemic for their significant physical, emotional and financial burdens due to cholera.”
The letter comes at a time when the epidemic is worsening: in the first quarter of 2015, the Haitian Government recorded a tripling of cases as compared to the same quarter of 2014, according to the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti. To date, cholera has killed over 8,900 people and sickened more than 730,000. The death toll from cholera in Haiti alone is now comparable to the toll of Ebola worldwide since 2010.
“There is no denying the Haitian people are suffering and I once again renew my call to the much needed aid that is needed for the country and the United Nation’s accountability to address this crisis as efficient and quickly as possible,” New York State Assemblywoman Kimberly Jean-Pierre said.