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European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response
Cholera in Haiti
Press Statement in Berlaymont
Brussels, 13 December 2010
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I would like to thank you for coming to this press point.
Let me give you an update on the cholera epidemics in Haiti. When I spoke to you on 18 November, the number of daily deaths was still climbing (50 daily deaths on 23 Nov.). Since then, thanks to the concerted efforts of the international community, numbers were going down (22 daily deaths on 4 Dec.).This is despite the cholera having reached the camps in Port-au-Prince. Since we have not seen yet the peak of the epidemics in terms of number people affected, it remains vital for all people to be able to get quick treatment.
However, we are all aware of the street violence in Haiti, which is jeopardising the efforts to fight cholera. Last week figures indicated already that figures of death and new cases were on the up again.
In this context, people affected by cholera no longer have access to life-saving treatment.
Cholera treatment centres cannot operate and medical personnel cannot move around freely.
Mortality rates and the number of infected are likely to rise dramatically.
Riots are also preventing the delivery of clean water and other basic services, both to cholera affected communities and to the numerous tent camps which still house more than one million people affected by the earthquake.
The situation has now become extremely volatile. Cholera can be treated easily and promptly, but if sick people cannot access health services provided by the government and the international community, they will die unnecessarily.
The European Union reacted strongly and swiftly since the start. The Commission mobilised 12 Million € to support DG ECHO partners present in Haiti, and also activated the EU Civil Protection mechanism and coordinated Member States in-kind assistance, financing a part of the transport. I would like to thank in particular FR, AT, IT, BE, SE, ES, IE, DE and HU.
Through this, the EU, Commission and MS, have been able to support more than 30 Cholera Treatment Units and Cholera Treatment Centres. In addition, we have:
Provided access to clean water to more than 500,000 people;
Improved access to safe latrines for 900,000 people;
Sensitised one million people to cholera risks;
Distributed 1,3 million of hygiene items.
The Commission is committed to continue its support to the people of Haiti and we have made preliminary engagements to that new additional funds to fight the cholera can be contracted swiftly, as soon as the conditions of security and stability to implement them are met.
I will also encourage European Member States to continue their generous contributions to fight this epidemic.
Haiti is currently facing one of the most difficult moments of its history. Cholera has worsened the dramatic living conditions of those who lost everything in the earthquake. If necessary measures are taken, this epidemic can be defeated but if violence persists we can end up with a humanitarian crisis of unpredictable proportions.