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Top UN aid official says cholera’s continued spread in Haiti a ‘worrying trend’

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UNITED NATIONS (CMC) – A top United Nations aid official says the continued spread of cholera in Haiti is a “worrying trend,” lamenting that a US$145 million appeal to support the response is only 16 per cent funded.

UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Haiti, Ulrika Richardson, Thursday updated reporters at UN headquarters on the deadly outbreak, which was declared on October 2.

She said, so far, 283 people have died, nearly 12,000 have been hospitalised, and more than 14,000 suspected cases have been recorded.

“What we are seeing, in fact, is not only the continued increase of cholera cases but also the spread to the regions. In eight of the 10 departments, there are confirmed cholera cases, and this is a worrying trend for us and for the country.”

Richardson is at UN headquarters for a three-day visit to meet with senior officials and colleagues on the outbreak, which is unfolding amid political instability, gang violence and unprecedented hunger.

The UN said the flash appeal was launched last month to support emergency cholera response and to provide life-saving assistance to 1.4 million people living in affected areas, but Richardson said only US$23.5 million has been received to date as she highlighted the immense needs as a new year approaches.

“In fact, the humanitarian needs continue to increase,” she said, adding that the UN is currently preparing the 2023 Humanitarian Response Plan for Haiti, which calls for US$719 million, or roughly double the amount requested this year.

Meanwhile, “insecurity continues to be rampant, with really chilling reports of human rights violations,” she said.

The UN said gangs dominate nearly 60 per cent of the capital, Port-au-Prince, and use terrifying means to keep the population in control, including sexual violence and that women and girls are affected, but so are men and boys, as the gangs fight over territory.

“That territory is worth both fighting for and defending at all costs, and the cost here is a human cost,” Richardson said, noting that the insecurity has also sparked massive displacement, particularly in the capital.

An estimated 155,000 people have been uprooted, a nearly 80 per cent increase since August, Richardson said, pointing also to a positive development where more than half of schools have reopened, despite all the challenges.

She said school closures have affected some four million children, many of whom have not had proper access to education since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Humanitarian Coordinator in Haiti underscored the UN’s continued support to the country, whether in cholera response, education, or distribution of food and other items to vulnerable families.

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