On Thursday the General Assembly adopted a resolution by consensus supporting the U.N. chief’s appeal to member states to transfer $40.5 million in unused funds to Haiti, specifically to its peacekeeping mission to help victims of a cholera outbreak.
The outbreak has caused over 9,000 deaths and affected over 800,000 people, making it a “grave concern.” According to the resolution, the U.N. has “a moral responsibility to the victims of the cholera epidemic in Haiti and to their families” and to support the country in overcoming the epidemic.
However, the U.N. has not always been willing to assist with the outbreak. Though researchers found that U.N. peacekeepers from Nepal started the outbreak, the U.N. denied or was silent for years about allegations that it was responsible for the outbreak.
“The crisis spawned by the introduction and spread of cholera in Haiti, which stemmed from the actions and inactions of the United Nations, is not one to which we can turn a blind eye,” said Jamaican Ambassador Courenay Rattray, who introduced the resolution to the 193-member General Assembly.
It was not until December that then Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon apologized for the United Nations not doing enough to contain the outbreak.
With its new resolution, based off Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ approach, the U.N. aims to reduce the incidence of cholera by improving Haiti’s water, sanitation and health systems, improving access to care and treatment, and supporting victims and their families through their communities.
To raise the funds, Guterres targeted the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti. Though the Security Council voted unanimously in April to end the 13-year-old mission in mid-October, the Secretary-General asked U.N. members in late May to consider waiving the return of the mission’s $40.5 million balance and credits, putting the money in the cholera trust fund. Aiming to raise $400 million to fight the disease, he also wrote to every member state and appointed a high-level envoy to try to raise money.
Despite these efforts, Guterres was only able to raise $2.67 million. Nonetheless, the U.N.’s newfound commitment to the outbreak “represents…our shared purpose of promoting and preserving human rights, international peace and security, and development,” added Rattray.