* WHO predicts up to 112,000 Haiti cholera cases for 2012
* Epidemic has killed more than 7,400 in two years
* Ban recommends cut to Haiti peacekeeping force
By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS, Aug 31 U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon
warned on Friday that Haiti was struggling to cope with a
cholera epidemic that has killed thousands and deteriorating
conditions in tent camps as aid groups withdraw from the
impoverished country due to a lack of funding.
In a report to the U.N. Security Council, Ban said there had
been an increase in the number of cholera cases since the rainy
season began in early March and the World Health Organization
had projected there could be up to 112,000 cases during 2012.
The cholera outbreak has sickened almost 600,000 people and
killed more than 7,400 in the Caribbean nation since October
2010. Some Haitians accused Nepalese U.N. troops of sparking the
epidemic after their camp latrines contaminated a river.
"The resurgence of the cholera outbreak is particularly
worrying since non-governmental organizations which responded at
the beginning of the epidemic are phasing out due to lack of
funding," Ban said.
"As a consequence, the support for the transfer of
responsibilities to the Health Ministry, as foreseen in the
national strategy, has decreased, as has the capacity for the
effective treatment of cholera cases," he said.
Cholera is an infection that causes severe diarrhea and can
lead to dehydration and death. It occurs in places with poor
sanitation and can be treated by drinking clean fluids.
Haiti is still struggling to lift itself from the rubble
left by an earthquake in January 2010 that killed about 300,000
people and left more than 1.5 million homeless.
CUT TO PEACEKEEPERS
Ban said more than 390,000 people were still living in
"Living conditions in the camps have deteriorated as
humanitarian actors progressively withdraw due, among other
reasons, to lack of funding," the secretary-general said.
"Haitians living in camps where sanitation standards are
inadequate are extremely vulnerable to natural hazards as well
as to acute diarrheal infections and cholera," he said. "Over
230,000 internally displaced persons are projected to still be
living in camps by the end of 2012."
He said that by March 2012, only half the $5.50 billion
pledged by the international community at a fundraising
conference in 2010 had been spent.
Ban recommended that the Security Council extend a U.N.
peacekeeping force in Haiti for a further year, but that the
number of authorized troops and police be reduced by 1,710 to
8,871. There are now some 10,000 peacekeepers in Haiti and Ban
suggested a gradual drawdown be completed by June 2013.
U.N. peacekeepers are gradually handing over security
responsibility to the Haitian National Police.
The force, known as the United Nations Stabilization Mission
in Haiti, or MINUSTAH, was established in 2004 and has been
helping Haiti's short-staffed and ill-equipped police maintain
security, especially during elections plagued by fraud and
unrest. The force size was increased after the earthquake.
The force's activities would be further narrowed to core
tasks achievable with a reasonable time "aimed at consolidating
stabilization gains to a point beyond which the presence of a
large peacekeeping operation will no longer be required," Ban
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Peter Cooney)