Re: Haiti, Cholera and the U.N.

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Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, has faced numerous crises over the last two years, from a devastating earthquake and hurricanes, to political instability and a cataclysmic cholera outbreak. As a result, the country seems to be in perpetual affliction. In your article published on April 30th entitled Haiti, cholera and the U.N., Jane Change and Muneer Ahmad provide an interesting analysis of the spread of the cholera epidemic in Haiti and the U.N.’s involvement in the proliferation and spread of the disease. Although the outbreak was inadvertently caused by the U. N.’s Nepalese troops, as the article points out, the international body did little to address the issue satisfactorily.


Human Rights Brief

The reason why Haitians have limited means of redress is not only due to the U. N.’s unwillingness to take action on the issue, but also in part due to what can be described as a lack of quality regarding the leadership of the Caribbean country. On the international level, there has not been a concerted effort toward the creation of an appropriate nation-building plan. According to the U.N.’s Humanitarian Coordinator in Haiti, Nigel Fisher, the humanitarian response to the earthquake has been a success, even though there are still more than half a million displaced people inside the country. The actions of the several NGO’s working inside Haiti, while admirable, are inadequate. Moreover, on the internal side, President Martelly is politically weak. Despite his efforts, he has no background in politics, and now, after a year has passed since his election, the results of his political improvisation, exemplified by the resignation of Prime Minister Garry Conille, are becoming increasingly tangible.


Regardless of the relatively huge amount of international aid pouring into Haiti, there is no coordination between the different actors, and more importantly, an effective long-term plan for the country has not yet been established. There are several of policy solutions which, if enacted, would go a long way toward fostering economic self-sustenance for millions of Haitians. One such policy is the proliferation of microcredit to encourage average Haitians to start businesses which would enable them to sustainably feed their families. That is the reason why both national and international policymakers should now ask themselves how the country will maintain itself after the departure of aid-distributing foreign governments and well-meaning NGOs.