Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

United Nations Should Compensate Cholera Victims

Briefly telling the story of cholera in Haiti, this editorial focuses on UN responsibility for the cholera epidemic and their subsequent denial of fault. It highlights United States involvement with the UN, saying the US should use their power to push for justice for cholera victims.


United Nations must own up to Haiti cholera epidemic

New York Daily News
April 20, 2014

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Just-deceased literary legend Gabriel García Márquez might have called it “Cowardice in the Time of Cholera” — the horror story of how the United Nations is ducking responsibility for introducing the deadly disease to Haiti.

The tale begins in 2010, when soldiers from Nepal, where cholera is endemic, arrived to help the island nation recover from a devastating earthquake. Sewage from the UN camp almost certainly leaked into a waterway used for drinking.

Public health officials spotted symptoms of cholera near the outpost. Before long, Haitians, who had been blessedly cholera-free for a century and a half, were stricken with the disease by the hundreds of thousands.

This vicious infection causes diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration and death. At this point, more than 800,000 Haitians have suffered — and 8,000 have lost their lives.

As families buried sons, daughters, mothers and fathers, the global bureaucrats hemmed and hawed and denied any connection.

That didn’t last long — as a series of reports, including the findings of a 2011 UN-commissioned panel, connected the peacekeepers to the outbreak.

Then, the world body promised to make investments in better sanitation throughout Haiti. Necessary but insufficient.

The people of Haiti are suing the UN for the true compensation they are owed. It is callous to deny their right to pursue genuine legal accountability — but that is exactly what the UN is now doing, claiming immunity under a policy the United States supports.

The U.S. foots the bill for about a fifth of the UN’s $5.5 billion core budget, and for an even greater chunk of its larger budget for peacekeeping operations.

The U.S. should use all of its influence to ensure that the world body meets its full obligations to the Haitian people.


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