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Cholera ‘Forever Destroyed’ U.N.’s Image in Haiti, Ban Ki-moon Says

“This disaster forever destroyed the United Nations’ reputation in Haiti,” Mr. Ban wrote in the book. “I am sickened that the country has not fully recovered.”

“Resolved: Uniting Nations in a Divided World,” Mr. Ban’s memoir, was published this month by Columbia University Press and devotes a chapter to Haiti and the U.N.’s work in that country, the Western Hemisphere’s poorest. Freed from the constraints of office, Mr. Ban went further than he had while secretary general in describing what, in his view, were the problems he faced with Haiti.

A victims’ compensation fund established by Mr. Ban near the end of his term, financed by voluntary contributions from member states, had less than $20 million as of Sunday, a sliver of the $400 million he had sought. Several diplomats told Mr. Ban their governments “do not want to pay U.N. debts stemming from our own negligence,” Mr. Ban said in the book.

Recalling his own traumatic visit to Haiti a week after the quake struck in January 2010, with vast parts of Port-au-Prince, the capital, in ruins, including the presidential palace, Mr. Ban dwelled on what he described as Mr. Préval’s seeming inability to cope.

“He had not even sent a message of hope to the Haitian people, and I strongly urged him to do so,” Mr. Ban recalled. “But he seemed so shaken that he didn’t know what to do. In fact, he was terrified. He was panicked.”

Mr. Préval, whose presidency ended in 2011, died in 2017.

Mr. Ban acknowledged that the 8,500 United Nations peacekeepers who were deployed in Haiti beginning in 2004 to control criminal gangs “were not beloved by the Haitians, who often thought the peacekeepers stirred up violence instead of quelling it.”

Partly because of the poor perception of the peacekeepers, he said, Haitians were predisposed to believe that a Nepalese contingent in the peacekeeping force had brought cholera into the country when cases were first reported in October 2010. Nearly six years later, after three investigations, Mr. Ban said, there was “no doubt” that the Nepalese had allowed fecal waste to contaminate a river widely used for drinking, bathing and washing.


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