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This blog is written by Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Posts appear Monday & Wednesday.

UN on Disasters: Those Who Can’t Do, Scold

The United Nations, which failed to stop the coronavirus from spreading everywhere, and which introduced cholera to earthquake-devastated Haiti, releases a report on disaster management.

this graphic appears on 15 page of the UN’s new report, Human cost of disasters (click the image)

According to the UN, yesterday was International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction. A press release about a new report tells us that, between 1980 and 1999, natural disasters claimed an estimated 1.19 million lives. During the most recent 20-year period (2000 to 2019), 1.23 million lives were lost. The UN says this “sharp increase” can be blamed on climate change. But that’s just hyperbole and speculation.

Mami Mizutori, a Japanese diplomat who now serves as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, is quoted as saying

We are willfully destructive. That is the only conclusion one can come to when reviewing disaster events over the last twenty years…Good disaster risk governance depends on political leadership…

Oh, lordy. How embarrassing for this woman that, as her own press release admits:

The largest single event by death toll was the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, 226,400 deaths; the second largest event occurred in 2010, when a 7.0 Richter earthquake struck Haiti in the middle of the night, killing approximately 222,000 people and leaving millions homeless. In 2008, Cyclone Nargis killed over 138,000 people in Myanmar.

Between them, those three events account for 586,4000 deaths – half of the total for the 20-year period. We are not willfully destructive. Neither the tsunami nor the earthquake had anything to do with climate change, and there’s no way to prove Mother Nature isn’t wholly responsible for the severity of that particular cyclone.

Speaking of political leadership, the UN itself made the aftermath of Haiti’s earthquake infinitely more miserable. It was UN peacekeepers who brought cholera to Haiti after that country was hit by the earthquake. It was UN officials, including those at the World Health Organization, who stonewalled and denied responsibility. Not until six years and 10,000 deaths later, did the head of the UN apologize to the people of Haiti – but his apology failed to admit how the cholera got there.

In the words of New York Times: “Even though [Ban Ki-Moon’s] office has acknowledged that the United Nations had played a role in the outbreak, his apology on Thursday was limited to how the world body responded to the outbreak, not how it started.”

You see, the UN has this little thing called diplomatic immunity. Which means it can never be held accountable for the damage it inflicts. No matter how many people die. (The word ‘cholera’ doesn’t appear in the new UN report, which does talk about a 2004 flood that killed 2,600 Haitians.)

I’ve mentioned previously that two incredible books have been written about what went down in Haiti. One by a journalist. One by a doctor. No one who reads those books can possibly take seriously anything the UN might say about disaster management. .

 

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The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster
Jonathan Katz
 

Deadly River: Cholera and Cover-up in Post-Earthquake Haiti
Ralph Frerichs

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This entry was posted on October 14, 2020 by in ethical & philosophical and tagged , .
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