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U.N. Committed To Helping Haiti Address Cholera, Ban Says In Response To Congressional Letter

U.N. “Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told members of the U.S. Congress Friday that the United Nations is committed to helping Haiti overcome a cholera epidemic even though it is refusing to pay compensation to victims who blame U.N. peacekeepers for starting the outbreak,” the Associated Press reports. “Ban was responding to a May 30 letter from U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters [D-Calif.] and 18 other Congressional ‘friends of the people of Haiti’ who expressed concern at the U.N.’s rejection of the claims by 5,000 cholera victims and their families,” the news agency writes. “Ban sent separate letters to the 19 lawmakers outlining measures the United Nations has taken and supported, saying it has devoted more than $140 million to cholera treatment and prevention activities since 2010,” according to the AP. Ban “did not address the issue of responsibility for the epidemic, and he reiterated that the U.N. rejected the compensation claim in February on grounds that the world body has legal immunity from such lawsuits,” the AP writes. Ban wrote, “I would like to assure you that the legal decision does not in any way diminish my personal commitment, and that of the United Nations, to do all we can to help the people of Haiti overcome the cholera epidemic … Achieving this goal will not be easy, but it is possible,” according to the news agency (Lederer, 7/5).