For nearly two and a half years, the United Nations has sought to skirt responsibility for a ravenous Haitian cholera epidemic that killed at least 8,000 Haitians -- and sickened several hundred thousand more -- since the first outbreak was detected in October 2010, downriver from a sewage outlet used by a contingent of Nepalese blue helmets.
Today, Ban Ki-moon phoned Haitian president Michel Martelly to inform him that the United Nations has no intention, or legal obligation, to pay compensation to the families of Haiti's cholera victims.
"In November 2011, a claim for compensation was brought against the United Nations on behalf of the victims of the cholera outbreak in Haiti," Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters on Thursday. "Today, the United Nations advised the claimants representatives that the claims are no receivable pursuant to section 29 of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations."
Nesirky highlighted the U.N.'s role in trying to contain the spread of cholera, saying it has worked closely with Haitians "to provide treatment, improve water and sanitation facilities and strengthen prevention and early warning."
"The secretary general expresses his profound sympathy for the terrible suffering caused by the cholera epidemic, and calls on all partners in Haiti and the international community to work together to ensure better health and a better future for the people of Haiti," Nesirky said.
The Boston-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti filed the claim on behalf of the families of 5,000 victims, and is preparing claims on behalf of thousands more. Brian Concannon, the director of the organization, told Turtle Bay that the U.N. should be held liable for "negligent failure" to screen peacekeepers from a country known to have cholera and for the "reckless disposal of waste into Haiti's largest water system."
Concannon said that while the United Nations has signed a status of forces agreement with Haiti that shields it from suits brought by Haitian courts, the global body has an obligation to provide "an alternative mechanism" for victims to seek redress. His group is now preparing to pursue a case in a national court -- either within Haiti, the United States, the Netherlands, or Belgium -- to persuade a judge not to enforce the immunity agreement on the grounds that the United Nations has not lived up to "its side of the bargain."
"It's round two," he said.
The United Nations peacekeeping department has long maintained that a series of studies failed to present irrefutable evidence that U.N. peacekeepers were responsible for the outbreak. They argued that it would be more productive to invest the U.N.'s resources into trying to contain the spread of the disease rather than determining who was responsible for introducing cholera into Haiti for the first time in more than 100 years.
Following protests from Haitians, Ban commissioned a panel of independent medical experts to "investigate and seek to determine the source of the 2010 cholera outbreak in Haiti." The four-member team, headed by Dr. Alejandro Cravioto, head of the International Center for Diarrheal Disease Research in Dhaka, Bangladesh, provided strong circumstantial evidence hinting at a U.N. role but stopped just short of pinning the blame on the Nepalese peacekeepers.
The panel concluded, as Turtle Bay reported at the time, "that the disease was introduced into the Haitian population by human activity in the Meye Tributary, a branch of the Artibonite River, and quickly spread throughout the river delta, infecting thousands of Haitians along the way. At the time, Nepalese peacekeepers were stationed at a camp in Mierbalais, along the banks of the Meye, fueling suspicion that the waste of an infected peacekeeper had flowed into the river."
But the panel argued that the other forces contributing to the spread of the disease -- poor sanitation and a dysfunctional health care system -- were so varied as to make it impossible to identify a specific culprit. "The independent panel concludes that the Haiti cholera outbreak was caused by the confluence of circumstances as described above, and was not the fault of, or deliberate action of, a group or individual," read the report.
A U.S. cholera expert at Tufts Univeristy, Daniele Lantagne, who was a member of the U.N. panel, told the BBC last October that further scientific evidence pointed more conclusively towards the Nepalese peacekeepers. She said it is "most likely" that they were the source of the outbreak.
Jonathan Katz, a former Associated Press reporter who covered the cholera outbreak, said the U.N. has "spent the last year and change saying" they can't talk about the cholera epidemic because the claims case was pending. But now, he said, the U.N. maintains that it won't even consider the claim.
Katz, who authored the recent book on the Haiti relief effort, The Big Truck that Went By, said U.N.'s refusal to confront responsibility reflects a deeper concern that establishing precedent could open the door to a slew of lawsuits against the United Nations around the world.
"The United Nations is concerned about the precedent this would set for U.N. peacekeeping and the other work they do around the world," he said. "I can imagine a long line of people going around the world that would love to go after the United Nations."
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Mutineers effortlessly seized control of the eastern Congolese capital of Goma, laying claim to the region's political and commercial capital, and embarrassing Congolese armed forces and U.N. peacekeepers that did little to stall their advance.
In New York, France and the United States this evening reached agreement on a draft resolution that condemns the M23 mutineers' capture of Goma, and demands their immediate withdrawal from the city. The resolution -- which is expected to be voted on tonight -- will impose additional sanctions on M23's commanders and ask U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to report on "external support" for the rebel group.
The French-American pact followed days of difficult negotiations over the appropriate response to the crisis, and whether to blame the mutineers alleged backers -- Rwanda and Uganda. France, a longtime ally of Congo, favored directly naming the regional powers. But the United States, which has close ties to Rwanda, opposes such action.
An independent U.N. panel has accused Rwanda, and to a lesser extent Uganda, of organizing, arming, training, and financing the mutiny in eastern Congo.
In recent days, the mutineers -- who allegedly take their orders from Rwandan Defense Minister James Kaberebe -- have received supplies of advance military equipment, including night vision goggles and mortars.
The panel, which was established by the U.N. Security Council to monitor compliance with the country's arms embargo, has accused the M23 of committed widespread human rights abuses, including murder, rape, and the forced recruitment of children.
Rwanda and Uganda have denied playing any role in backing the mutineers.
France, which has the lead on Security Council action in the Congo, has privately expressed an interest in sanctioning Rwanda, or at least citing their alleged role in aiding the insurgency. But they have faced resistance from the United States, according to Security Council diplomats.
The French mission said today in a tweet that the "proposed text requests" that Ban "report on external support to M23 in the coming days [and] expresses readiness to take action." The United States, however, raised concern about that provision, according to council diplomats.
The U.S. mission to the United Nations declined to discuss the content of its closed-door discussions. But a U.S. official said: "Our concern about the situation in Eastern Congo and the M23's appalling military campaign is clear, and our objective is to end the rebellion. Any action by the Security Council should be measured against whether it supports the ongoing diplomatic efforts toward that goal."
The debate in the council unfolded as M23 marched largely unopposed into the eastern Congolese city of Goma.
The U.N. deputy spokesman, Eduardo del Buey, cited reports that the M23 mutineers have "wounded civilians, continued abductions of women and children, looted property and intimidated journalists and those who have attempted to resist their controls."
Del Buey said that as of midday the U.N. still had control over the city's airport and that 17 U.N. rapid reaction forces were carrying out patrols in Goma and would "continue all efforts within their capacity to protect civilians from imminent threat."
France's foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, sharply criticized the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, known as MONUSCO, saying it was "absurd" that a force that numbers 17,000 peacekeepers, (although far fewer are deployed in the area of fighting), was unable to repel the advance of several hundred insurgents into Goma. "MONUSCO is 17,000 soldiers, but sadly it was not in a position to prevent what happened," Fabius said.
Britain, meanwhile, urged its nationals not to travel to the conflict zone.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague, meanwhile, said that his government's minister for Africa, Mark Simmonds, was headed to the region to assess developments.
"The M23 must withdraw their forces immediately and allow legitimate government control to be restored," Hague said. "I urge once more those with influence over the M23 to encourage them to stop fighting and to withdraw immediately."
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When Superstorm Sandy's surge swept up on the shores of Manhattan's east side on Monday, Oct. 29, the United Nations went off the grid.
A 14-foot wall of salty floodwater poured from the East River into the landmark building's basement, disabling the electrical and cooling system, and shutting down the computer server that links the U.N. Secretariat staff with diplomats, foreign missions, and the press.
A backup database in New Jersey was unable to reconnect the U.N.'s nerve center in New York with the outside world.
The result was that the United Nations, the world's premier humanitarian relief organization, was largely invisible as a punishing storm inflicted significant pain on a wide swath of America, just outside its own front door.
"Disaster preparedness is one of the planks of the United Nations.... We try to walk the talk," Denmark's U.N. ambassador, Carsten Staur, said in a budget committee that turned into a forum for blasting the U.N.'s response in the days following the storm. "It is clear that this has been a blow to any kind of U.N. authority in that field that we can't even manage our own business when it comes to a situation like this."
Governments' criticisms of the U.N. response to Hurricane Sandy reflected a deeper discontent over the fading public role of the United Nations in the world, highlighted by the almost total lack of coverage by the media during the storm.
Turtle Bay, which reported the breakdown following the storm, was unable to secure an answer to even simple question: whether the U.N. General Assembly, which had a cover of plastic sheeting torn off by the hurricane, had any leaks. It would more than two and a half days before senior U.N. officials briefed the press on the matter.
The vacuum was highlighted by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's absence, and his spokesman's almost total lack of public outreach during the first days of the storm. (Ban issued his first statement on the storm on late Thursday afternoon, almost three days after the center of the storm punched through lower New York City.
"We all feel that the United Nations has disappeared from the screen for quite a long time," said Algeria's U.N. envoy, Mourad Benmehidi, who was speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries. "I still have the sentiment that we were out of touch: no mention of the United Nations for six, seven days."
Some officials said one of the reasons the foreign diplomatic community was so angry was that they blamed U.N. management for the destruction of dozens of diplomatic vehicles inside the compound.
A Singaporean diplomat said that the U.N. Office of Central Support Services had sent U.N. delegations an email on Ocobter 24 instructing them to park their cars in the U.N.'s lower basement area, because construction was going on above them. "A subsequent email advising missions to move their cars from the basement there was only received on Monday, at which time it was impossible or hazardous for our mission staff to travel to the United Nations," said the diplomat.
Germany's deputy U.N. ambassador, Miguel Berger, said that the U.N. had sent the email to the wrong email address. "We lost two cars in the garage and afterward we found out the mail address, the mail which was direct to the German mission was a mail address that is non-existent."
Yukio Takasu, a former Japanese diplomat who serves as the U.N.'s undersecretary general for management, and Gregory Starr, the former State Department security chief who serves as U.N. undersecretary for safety and security, defended the U.N.'s handling of the crisis, while acknowledging that some mistakes had been made.
But their fairly upbeat briefing yesterday, which highlighted the sacrifices of U.N. staff in getting the building back and running, only angered the delegates. "I don't agree with the self-congratulatory assessment of Mr. Gregory Starr," Benmehidi said. "Let's be more humble in addressing this situation."
"Today, is the time for anger management," he said.
Benmehidi said that the U.N. had not only been cut off from the world, but from the diplomatic community in New York. "The only email my mission received is from Marjorie Tivens, in charge of relations with the missions in the city of New York." Tivens, who happens to be Mayor Michael Bloomberg's sister, is an employee of the city, not the United Nations.
Staur sought to reinforce the Algerian delegation's point, saying that the U.N. secretariat had made no effort to harness the support of the U.N.'s 192 governments to relay communications to the diplomatic community on behalf of the organization. "That that didn't happen was basically, I think, a total breakdown of communication."
He said the U.N.'s leadership had also utterly failed in using the storm as an opportunity to show the institution's compassion to its victims. He said the U.N. headquarters itself -- which has just completed a $1billion-plus renovation intended to be a model of sustainable design -- "was supposed to be a state-of-the-art example of how to build, because we wanted the U.N. to display how to do things. That basically has not been the case."
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The U.N.'s newly renovated landmark building on First Avenue was still reeling Wednesday from the impact of superstorm Sandy, which flooded Turtle Bay's third basement with several feet of water, paralyzing the building's electronic nerve center and preventing many U.N. staffers from returning to their offices. The U.N. issued an emergency bulletin today that said the building is due to open tomorrow, though offices above floor 17 will not be accessible.
The white tent that serves as the official delegates entryway to the United Nations General Assembly was ripped to shreds by the gale force winds. A large white sheet of plastic that stretched over the U.N. General Assembly dome is also stripped away, creating the impression, if not the reality, that the world's parliament had been cracked open to the elements.
The United Nations slowly emerged from storm today, as some U.N. officials either worked from their computers and Blackberrys at home, or returned to a network of U.N. offices beyond the main compound that had better withstood the storm's punch. But the U.N. secretariat's server appeared to be misfiring even today, as multiple emails sent to U.N. officials were returned to sender hours later.
The Security Council scheduled its first post-storm meeting in a temporary conference room on the U.N. compound north lawn building, which has served as Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's office throughout the $1 billion-plus restoration of U.N. headquarters.
The Security Council extended the mandate for African Union peacekeepers in Somalia before it was due to expire today and adopted a statement promoting the role of women in peace and security.
But there were no plans to address some of the council's more pressing issues, including the Syrian ceasefire that never really took hold over last weekend. "I don't thing there will be much substance today," said one council diplomat.
The U.N. Development Program is "slowly beginning to return to normal," said Heraldo Munoz, an assistant secretary general at UNDP, who returned to work at his office across the street from U.N. headquarters. "We have several people working, mainly people living in Manhattan, but we are in communication with those people who could not make it and are working from their homes."
The flooding at U.N. headquarters has inflicted "severe damage to the building's communications infrastructure," he said. "There was flooding that affected the machinery and power that cools the computer machinery" that runs the building.
Another U.N. diplomat said that the Secretariat's "information and communications technology and electrical infrastructure are very, very damaged. UNDP's and UNICEF's are in much better shape. There will be many questions about this in the coming days."
The U.N. has previously been closed on the occasional workday, including on 9/11, when U.N. staff were evacuated amid fears that terrorists would attack the diplomatic center. But U.N. officials said today that they could not recall another episode when a natural disaster had forced the U.N. Secretariat to shutter its doors for so long, three days so far.
As of this morning, U.N. security continued to prohibit all but repair crews from entering headquarters.
Much of the U.N.'s diplomatic community remained partially cut off from their colleagues, communicating with Blackberrys that stopped working for much of the day on Tuesday.
Many U.N.-based diplomats, particularly younger, mid-level staff who don't reside in official residences, live in lower Manhattan, which suffered a massive blackout, or in the suburbs of Westchester County, which also saw significant losses of electricity.
"The impact for me has been total isolation," said one European diplomat posted at the United Nations. "I've been totally stuck in a powerless building.... I have very little insight to what's been going on" at headquarters.
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Photo courtesy of Heraldo Munoz
Earlier this month, I reported a story about the U.N. removing three Somali regions from its list of famine-wracked areas. The news was not all good. More than 250,000 Somalis are still at risk of starvation and famine is expected to persist in other parts of the country until the end of the summer.
But the loosening of the grip of the famine -- caused by fresh rains and increased levels of humanitarian assistance in stricken areas -- is a good starting point to consider the region's vulnerability to future famines.
I reached out to Joseph Chamie, director of research at the Center for Migration Studies and the former director of the U.N. Population Division, to ask what degree population growth may have played a role in East Africa's famine.
A lot, he says, noting that the Horn of Africa has seen a rapid spurt in population growth in recent decades that has correspondingly increased stress on local resources.
Somalia, for instance, has seen its population grow from 2 million in 1950 to 9 million in 2010; Ethiopia has seen its population increase from 18 million to 83 million during the same period.
"First, this is not the last famine in Africa. More famines should be expected in Africa in the coming years," says Chamie. "And some will be far worse than the current one in East Africa, bringing with it increased starvation and higher mortality rates, especially among children and the elderly."
The prospects for future famines are not limited to demographics.
Despite the uncertainty of predicting local or regional weather patterns, climate experts have raised concerns about the impact of global warming in the Horn of Africa, which potentially might bring about longer and more frequent droughts.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon once attributed the political unrest in Darfur, Sudan, in part to the struggle among communities for natural resources stretched by a warming climate. And competition for resources is likely to grow, according to U.N. projections, which show rapid population growth in the Horn of Africa over the next 40 years, including a tripling of population in Somalia.
Population for Selected African Countries
For Chamie, the projections forecast a greater human toll. "There are many reasons for this, including simply many more people, poverty, lack of social-economic development, no safety net for the starving, weak and often unresponsive government, [and] political/ethnic conflicts."
He says that "the provision of food and related aid is needed on an emergency basis, this is clearly not a solution. These countries will need to progress socially, economically and politically. However, this will be a Herculean task for many of these failing states, which are experiencing rapid population growth and slow economic growth."
Climate scientists are concerned that a key expression of global warming -- extreme weather -- may inflict greater environmental pressure on the Horn of Africa. But they cannot link global warming directly to the ongoing famine.
The current drought has been caused by two successive seasons of extremely low rainfall, making 2010-2011 the driest or second-driest period since 1950, depending on various analysis.
Mean annual temperatures have increased by as much as 1.3 degree Celsius in Ethiopia, one of the worst-affected countries. The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change, the world's leading authority on global warming, has not established evidence of statistically significant trends in rain patterns in East Africa. But reports from the Kenya Food Security Group and pastoralist communities "show that drought related shocks used to occur every ten years, and they are now occurring every five years or less," notes an Oxfam briefing paper. "Borana communities in Ethiopia report that whereas droughts recorded every 6-8 years in the past, they now occur every 1-2 years."
But perhaps the key challenge for addressing the next major drought, notes Chamie, is money. "With the current global economic crisis, donor countries will find it increasingly difficult to continue to provide food, water, medicine, aid, etc. to the millions of people who will be in need," Chamie said. "As the famines become more frequent and commonly reported in the media, the willingness of the general public and elected officials in donor nations to contribute monies and aid will decrease, especially as they are likely to see no end to the assistance and dependency."
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President René Préval on
Wednesday will unveil a $3.9 billion plan to begin to radically reshape Haiti's
post-earthquake economy and physical infrastructure, including hundreds of
millions of dollars to erect disaster resistant buildings and redesign the
country's transportation system, according to a Haitian reconstruction action
plan (pdf) made public today.
The plan, which Preval will present to donors at a U.N. conference in New York, would essentially redirect much of the country's economic development outside Port-au-Prince, and create new provisional economic hubs to compete with the capital. It provides the first detailed account of how Haiti and its international backers plan to spend the money over the next 18 months.
The March 31 reconstruction conference will be hosted by the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and include senior representatives from Brazil, France, Spain, Canada, and the European Union. The event, which will also include an appearance by the former U.S. President Bill Clinton, who is serving as the U.N.'s Haiti reconstruction czar, is designed to mobilize massive international funds for the island country after the immediate earthquake recovery phase is completed.
"Rebuilding Haiti does not mean returning to the situation that prevailed before the earthquake," according to Preval's 56 page action plan. "It means addressing all these areas of vulnerability, so that the vagaries of nature or natural disasters never again inflict such suffering or cause so much damage and loss."
Haiti's reconstruction action plan marks the first phase of highly ambitious reconstruction effort that could more than $11 billion on Haiti over the next decade. It calls for refurbishing the airport and main port, building a new airport and two new seaports, and laying 600 kilometers of road throughout the country to promote trade, tourism, and access to health-care centers.
The Haitian proposal is based on the findings of post-disaster needs assessment study that was carried out by Haitian and international reconstruction specialists. It calls for the establishment a multiple-donor fiduciary fund that would help oversee international reconstruction funds, and a temporary committee for rebuilding Haiti, later to be folded into the Agency for Development in Haiti, which would give the Haitian government a role in determining reconstruction priorities.
"The situation that the country is facing is difficult but not desperate," the action plan states. "In many ways it is an opportunity to unite Haitians of all classes and origins in a shared project to rebuild the country on new foundations."
On Jan. 12, Haiti endured its worst natural catastrophe in 200 years, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that killed more than 300,000 people, destroyed 105,000 homes, 50 hospitals and health centers, 1,300 school and university buildings and wiped out the presidential palace, parliament, and most other government buildings in the capital.
The overall cost of the damage and losses to economic productivity amounted to more than $8 billion, according to the plan. More than 1.3 million people have been displaced by the earthquake and are living in hundreds of spontaneously built settlements and camps.
"That is our challenge in New York -- not to rebuild but to ‘build back better,' to create a new Haiti," Ban wrote Monday in a Washington Post opinion piece. "Under the plan, an Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission would channel nearly $4 billion into specific projects and programs during the next 18 months. Over the next 10 years, reconstruction needs will total an estimated $11.5 billion."
expected to announce Wednesday that he will instruct Edmond Mulet, who is serving as his temporary envoy in Haiti, to
head the U.N. mission and help support the reconstruction effort over the next
year. Mulet told reporters at a press briefing in New York that the Haiti government
would have to play a central role in leading the relief and reconstruction
effort in Haiti.
Mulet acknowledged that the government's capacity to oversee such a massive rebuilding effort was limited, noting that about a quarter of the country's civil servants were killed in the earthquake. But he said that if the international community did not focus more attention on supporting Haiti's capacity to govern itself, the U.N. may be required to keep peacekeepers in the country "for the next 200 years."
Hundreds of U.N. officials and diplomats gathered in the lobby of U.N. headquarters this afternoon to honor colleagues who died in Haiti. Ban Ki-moon presided over of the laying a simple wreath with white lilies and roses before a blue U.N. flag. The ceremony provided a rare opportunity for U.N. staffers, who have been dispersed in several East Side Manhattan buildings to make way for the renovation of U.N. headquarters, to gather. A candlelight vigil was held on the U.N. grounds. It was another extremely sad day here.
Mario Tama/Getty Images
The sluggish international response to the
earthquake that leveled Haiti's capital and wiped out so many of the United
Nations staff holds serious political risks for the U.N. and its secretary-general,
Ban Ki-moon, who has struggled to
restore order to a chaotic relief effort.
Nearly a week after the 7.0 earthquake smashed Port-au-Prince, large numbers of Haitians are struggling to find food and water or fleeing to the countryside. As Ban traveled through the Haitian capital Sunday with a 17-vehicle envoy filled with top U.N. brass and journalists, destitute Haitians pleaded for food.
The crisis in Haiti is shaping up as the biggest test of Ban's leadership since he was selected to lead the organization three years ago. As other major natural disasters have shown, including Hurricane Katrina, failure to step up to the moment can have steep political costs.
Immediately following the quake, Ban himself
appeared slow to recognize the extent of the devastation. Nearly 14 hours after
the earthquake, the secretary-general faced the U.N. press corps for the first
time, and estimated that the death toll "may well be in the
hundreds" -- not the tens of thousands predicted by one of his own
The upbeat assessment reflected the tendency of a cautious U.N. leader who has a habit of downplaying the severity of crises. Over the past 24 hours, Ban's top advisors have portrayed the situation as calm even as reports of disorder have dominated media accounts.
The U.N. effort has been hobbled from the outset. The quake severed the U.N.'s communications, clogged the roads with broken concrete and debris, and severely damaged the city's main port. Much of the leadership of the U.N. mission in Haiti was killed or buried under rubble. The U.N.'s top relief coordinator survived the earthquake, but his wife and children were killed.
Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United States, praised the U.N.'s immediate handling of the crisis, saying, "Ban Ki-moon and the entire U.N. leadership team have done extraordinary work under extremely difficult circumstances. Grieving and wounded colleagues and officials have risen in this hour of need to provide assistance to the people of Haiti."
MINUSTAH via Getty Images
Emily Sanson-Rejous, a U.N. relief worker from New Zealand, survived the Haiti earthquake physically unscathed. And only then did her earthquake hell begin.
The relief worker walked out of her office in the U.N. logistics base in Port au Prince only to quickly discover that her husband Emmanuel and three small daughters were trapped beneath the rubble of the collapsed apartment building where they lived. Emily's sister told Turtle Bay that she dug through the building's remains for nearly 20 hours before finding her husband and one of her daughters. Both were dead. She rescued a second daughter, Alyahna, 2, who survived because her father had covered her with his own body. Her third daughter, Kofie-Jade, 5, who was named after the former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, remains inside the rubble.
Her sister, Rachel, says the U.N. has not been helpful providing information about the fate of her sister's family. Nor has the U.N. provided Emily, who is recovering in Florida, with psychological support; she is also having difficulty finding an orthopedic pediatrician to reset her surviving daughter's broken leg.
"We need a specialist in trauma counseling. She spent a long time, twenty hours, trying to dig her family out of rubble," Rachel said. "I understand this is apparently the worst crisis the U.N. has had to work with, ever," she said. "I understand we are only one family. But when it's your own family you will move mountains to try to get them."
As first-person accounts of what U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon has called the "single biggest loss in the history of this organization" begin to emerge, the ordeal of Sanson-Rejous is a reminder that the U.N. not only lost at last count 46 people (though the number may climb well over 100 dead in the quake), but has hundreds more psychologically scarred officials out of a total community of nearly 12,000 U.N. peacekeepers and civil servants who were there.
Sophia Paris/MINUSTAH/Getty Images; UN staff in Haiti Facebook
Longtime Washington Post correspondent Colum Lynch reports on all things United Nations for Turtle Bay.