Sydney Morning Herald
November 10, 2011
Port-au-Prince, November 10, 2011 – FIVE thousand cholera sufferers in Haiti have launched legal action demanding the United Nations pay hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation for an epidemic widely blamed on UN peacekeepers.
The epidemic has killed 6600 people and infected about 475,000 since it erupted a year ago. Several studies have indicated the cholera was introduced by Nepalese peacekeepers, and lawyers acting for the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti have filed a legal claim demanding $US100,000 ($A96,000) for each death and $US50,000 for each person made sick.
The group said it is acting for 5000 people made sick or families of the dead and has threatened a full court case if the UN does not give compensation.
”The cholera outbreak is directly attributable to the negligence, gross negligence, recklessness and deliberate indifference for the health and lives of Haiti’s citizens by the United Nations,” says the group’s petition. The group said the United Nations tried to cover up the cause of the cholera outbreak until an independent panel of experts released a report in May.
The institute said the legal petition was sent to the UN headquarters and the UN mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH, last week.
UN spokesmen made no immediate comment.
Brian Concannon, the director of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, said: ”The majority of the petition’s facts come from UN reports. The UN developed much of the law we cite. Our clients are challenging the institution to act consistently with what it knows to be true and just.”
Studies by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and other leading experts have said the peacekeepers based at a camp at Mirebalais in northern Haiti brought the strain of cholera into the country.
The World Health Organisation predicted last month that the number of cases would hit 500,000 by the end of the year.
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