UN Haiti cholera fund fails to draw pledges

Patients with cholera symptoms receive medical attention in a Samaritan's Purse field hospital in Randelle, Haiti, on October 19, 2016

A UN fund set up for Haiti's cholera victims is failing to draw support, with only two percent of the needed $400 million raised so far, according to a letter by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Guterres asked member-states in the letter sent this week to notify the United Nations by March 6 whether they intend to pledge aid to Haiti, where more than 9,000 people died of cholera in a 2010 epidemic. The United Nations is hoping to raise $400 million over two years to reduce the current cholera caseload of 30,000 to 10,000 by the end of 2018 and provide clean water and sanitation. Only 25 percent of Haitians have access to toilets. Cholera causes severe diarrhea and can be spread through contaminated food and water. So far, South Korea, France, Liechtenstein, India and Chile have together contributed about $2 million to the UN fund, while Canada and Japan have separately granted about $7 million to help Haiti. "The voluntary contributions that have been received are not yet sufficient to cover what is required," wrote Guterres in the letter, adding that the amount received so far was "approximately two percent" of the $400 million. "Should resources not materialize, a multi-funded solution would have to be explored," Guterres said in the letter obtained by AFP on Friday, suggesting new sources of aid would have to be tapped. Former UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon was forced to apologize to the Haitian people after tests showed that cholera was introduced by infected Nepalese UN peacekeepers sent to Haiti after a devastating 2010 earthquake. Ban appointed British doctor David Nabarro to lead fund-raising efforts. Nabarro told AFP in an interview last month that he had "never found it so hard to raise money for an issue."

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