India will bear cost of vaccinating peacekeepers in Haiti: UN spokesperson

United Nations, Jan 10 (IANS) Peacekeeping personnel sent to Haiti without cholera vaccinations because of a serious lapse by India are getting inoculated there and New Delhi will have to bear the costs.

Vaccinations will be administered to peacekeeping personnel who had not received them before they were deployed and the costs of inoculating them in the field will be deducted from the reimbursements to the countries sending them, Stephane Dujrraic, the spokesperson for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters on Tuesday.

Dujarric was responding to reports that an Indian contingent sent to to work as police in peacekeeping operations in Haiti had not been vaccinated against cholera, which had killed 10,000 Haitians in an epidemic that began in 2010.

“Cholera vaccination is mandatory for all peacekeepers deployed in peacekeeping operations,” he said. “It is the responsibility for member states to ensure that their personnel receive all mandatory vaccination prior to deployment.”

According to the UN there were 440 Indians serving as police in its Haiti peacekeeping operations as of August.

Sending police or troops without cholera to Haiti is a serious matter because of the magnitude of the toll from the epidemic that was linked to peacekeepers from Nepal and blamed on improper disposal of waste that contaminated local water supplies.

The UN’s public image was hurt by it and it is still reeling from its consequences.

In December, the UN finally accepted blame and then Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon publicly apologised for the organisation’s response to the tragedy.

“We simply did not do enough with regard to the cholera outbreak and its spread in Haiti. We are profoundly sorry about our role,” he said.

In October the UN announced it would provide $200 million in assistance to the victims through donations it hoped to raise.

Dujarric said on Monday that so far only between $1.5 million to $1.8 million had come in, of which $1 million was from South Korea and the rest from France. “We, obviously, very much hope the money will be coming in,” he added.

A case demanding compensation was filed on behalf of the victims in a New York federal, but the judges dismissed it because the UN has diplomatic immunity.

(Arul Louis can be contacted at arul.l@ians.in)

–IANS

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