Ban Ki-moon in Haiti in­spects hur­ri­cane dam­age

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

THE UN chief has vis­ited vic­tims of dev­as­tat­ing Hur­ri­cane Matthew, say­ing the de­struc­tion wrought by the storm is “heart­break­ing”.

Dur­ing Satur­day’s trip, Ban Ki-moon re­newed a pledge to help the na­tion cope with a deadly scourge of cholera that was in­tro­duced by UN peace­keep­ers af­ter an earth­quake in 2010.

Ban’s brief visit came as vic­tims of the storm con­tin­ued to ex­press frus­tra­tion — some­times vi­o­lently — at de­lays in aid about a week-and-a-half since Matthew hit south­west Haiti with 235km per hour (kph) winds, killing at least 546 peo­ple and de­mol­ish­ing or dam­ag­ing tens of thou­sands of homes.

“I met so many dis­placed per­sons, young peo­ple, women who were preg­nant and sick peo­ple. It was heart­break­ing,” he said, de­scrib­ing his tour of an emer­gency shel­ter in the town of Les Cayes packed with fam­i­lies whose homes were de­stroyed.

Shortly be­fore Ban’s heli­copter was due to land in Les Cayes, a clash broke out be­tween rock-throw­ing res­i­dents and peace­keep­ers at a UN base there.

Roughly 100 frus­trated res­i­dents be­gan hurl­ing rocks when trucks fer­ry­ing food aid ar­rived. Haitian po­lice of­fi­cers and UN peace­keep­ers scat­tered the group with tear gas. Calm was re­stored as Ban’s heli­copter ap­proached. At the close of his roughly 4.5-hour stop in Haiti, Ban said at Port-au-Prince’s air­port that a cholera-fo­cused trust fund an­nounced in re­cent weeks was part of the UN’s “new ap­proach” to help­ing Haitian fam­i­lies who lost loved ones since the wa­ter­borne dis­ease was in­tro­duced here in Oc­to­ber 2010 - an out­break that has been ag­gra­vated by the hur­ri­cane.

The UN said the fund is de­signed to help Haiti over­come cholera and build stronger water, san­i­ta­tion and health sys­tems.

There has long been am­ple ev­i­dence that cholera was in­tro­duced to the na­tion’s big­gest river by in­ad­e­quately treated sewage from a UN peace­keep­ing base about 10 months af­ter Haiti’s dev­as­tat­ing earth­quake.

But the UN only ac­knowl­edged in Au­gust, fol­low­ing a leaked in­ter­nal re­port, that it played a role in in­tro­duc­ing cholera to Haiti and vowed to aid vic­tims in the im­pov­er­ished Caribbean na­tion, which has ex­pe­ri­enced the worst out­break of the dis­ease in re­cent his­tory.

Farhan Haq, UN deputy spokesman, said that that “the United Na­tions has a moral re­spon­si­bil­ity to the vic­tims”. — AFP

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