‘UN must address Haitian cholera crisis’

Cholera has killed more than 7,000 Haitians and sickened more than a half million people since October 2010. Photo: Paul Jeffrey/ACT Alliance
By on July 24, 2012

A letter by U.S. lawmakers asking the United Nations to take the lead in responding to the recent cholera epidemic in Haiti is gaining support from faith organizations and nonprofits.

The letter, sponsored by U.S. Representative John Conyers Jr., of Michigan, was sent to Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. on July 17, asking that she urge the world body to act decisively to stem the epidemic. It was signed by more than 100 members of Congress.

On July 23, a spokeswoman in the press office of the United States Mission to the U.N. could not immediately confirm to ENI that Rice had received the letter.

Cholera has killed more than 7,000 Haitians and sickened more than a half million people since October 2010. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in May that one of the two known strains of the virus was traced to an outbreak in Nepal. Scientists surmise that soldiers from Nepal, who were part of a U.N. peacekeeping force in Haiti in 2010, likely brought the virus with them.

The CDC estimates that adequate water and sanitation systems will cost $800 million to $1.1 billion.

“Church World Service thanks all the Members of Congress who have signed this important letter. Too many tragedies have befallen Haitians in recent years: damaging floods and hurricanes, a devastating earthquake, and now–through no fault of their own–the introduction of cholera into Haitian rivers and water systems,” said Martin Shupack, CWS education and advocacy director.

“The loss of so many lives is unacceptable. Appropriate authorities must ensure that no more are allowed to die,? Shupack said.

“The United Nations has a clear responsibility to help right this terrible wrong,” echoed Ruth Messinger, president of American Jewish World Service. “Haitians and everyone throughout the island of Hispaniola deserve their basic rights–access to clean water and a sanitation system that helps contain, not spread infectious diseases.”

“Members of Congress have joined a growing chorus calling for U.N. authorities to work with Haiti’s government and the Haitian people to confront and ultimately eliminate cholera,” said Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach, director of the Mennonite Central Committee’s Washington office.

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