Persons affected by the cholera epidemic that swept through this French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country ten years ago, have asked the state and the international community to ensure that rights and expectations of victims are at the heart of priorities and all forms of assistance.
The request was made during an international conference held in Haiti last week on responding to the needs of cholera victims.
This conference brought together civil society organizations, representatives of the Haitian authorities, doctors, sociologists as well as lawyers from Haiti and various other countries.
Ten years have passed since the start of the cholera epidemic, introduced by Nepalese MINUSTAH soldiers whose sewage was negligently discharged into a tributary of the Artibonite.
“Projects must necessarily be complemented by individual measures responding more specifically to suffering and needs of those most affected by the epidemic.”
While the eradication of the epidemic itself is welcome, the reparation and assistance to which the victims are entitled have still not been provided.
“ After consultation, victims say collective projects are useful in helping the country to overcome the ordeal, but such projects must necessarily be complemented by individual measures responding more specifically to suffering and needs of those most affected by the epidemic, including women, children and others who have lost a loved one. They must be listened to, all the more so since a detailed study concludes that such specific support measures for the main victims are feasible,” said Me Pascal Paradis, Director General of Lawyers Without Borders Canada (LWBC).
LWBC recalls that in 2016, the United Nations presented its new strategy to fight cholera in the country.
This was aimed at providing assistance to victims, their families and their community.
Despite the commitment made by the Secretary-General of the United Nations to “consult the victims, their families and the communities in the context of the development of the system”, the limited consultations carried out by the United Nations did not allow victims most affected by cholera to speak out on the best ways to remedy the suffering they have personally suffered.
The study recommends that the United Nations respond to the priorities, needs and concerns of cholera victims at all times and at all stages, including the provision of any form of assistance.