With the United Nations recently admitting its peacekeepers were likely responsible for the devastating outbreak of cholera in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake that ravaged the island, the organization announced Friday it will donate US$400 million to Haiti for its fight against the deadly disease.
Around 800,000 people have been affected by cholera since 2010, of which more than 9,000 have died, according to the World Health Organization, WHO.
For years the U.N. denied that its troops were the source of the outbreak but in August it accepted its "moral responsibility."
Then in October, the devastation left by Hurricane Matthew killed 1,000 people, wiped out crops and revived cholera outbreaks in the hard-hit southwestern region. It left up to 1.4 million people in need of humanitarian relief.
According to the U.N., at least US$200 million from the US$400-million donation will be used to fight the epidemic while the rest will be used to help affected families.
"We see this as a very important sign of solidarity with those directly affected by cholera," U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said in a telephone interview with NPR.
Along with the recent earthquake, Haiti has also been rocked by a political crisis over the past year, but on Sunday Haitians finally head to the polls after the first round of presidential elections was canceled last October amid widespread allegations of fraud.
A total of 27 candidates are trying to become president, looking to replace former President Michel Martelly who left office in February without a replacement. Jocelerme Privert was elected by the Haitian Parliament as interim president, but his 120-day mandate ended in June, leaving the country in a power vacuum since then.
The front-runner is Jovenel Moise, a 47-year-old candidate from Martelly’s Parti Haitien Tet Kale, PHTK, a rich man businessman in the banana industry. According to analysts, he’s also Washington's choice.
The other strong contender is Jude Celestin, a former state construction chief who led an election boycott last year after finishing second, triggering violent protests that lasted for days.
Unless a candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote, or an advantage of at least 25 percent over the second-place candidate, the two top candidates move to a second round run-off scheduled for Jan. 29. The winner is expected to take office in late February.