Not only has the United Nations (UN) used its immunity to protect itself from legal backlash for its role in the 2010 cholera outbreak, but it has failed to stand up as a global leader in justice. Despite significant scientific evidence determining that the UN caused the deadly outbreak, it has neither accepted responsibility nor done nearly enough to alleviate the crisis and provide Haitians access to clean water and vaccinations. Five months after the initial outbreak, hundreds of thousands of Haitians continue to become infected with cholera and receive little remedy from those responsible.
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UN must step up, apologize, and help drive cholera from Haiti
Editorial Board, The Boston Globe
August 12, 2015
When an earthquake ravaged Haiti in 2010, rescue workers from all over the world responded with medicine, food, and supplies for rebuilding. Unfortunately, a crew of United Nations peacekeepers from Nepal seems to have brought something else entirely: a deadly cholera epidemic that has killed 9,000 and sickened more than 700,000. This year’s rainy season has brought a new spike in cases, and health care workers dread the late-summer onset of hurricane season.
But justice for Haiti is slow in coming. Although there is ample genetic evidence that the peacekeepers contaminated a tributary of the Artibonite River with the virulent vibrio cholerae microbe, the UN has been tone deaf to international appeals for help and has prevailed in federal court, citing immunity to claims of damage. The case is now being appealed in the US Second Circuit in New York. Scores of human rights groups and legal scholars filed friend-of-the-court briefs in June. “There has never been a case like ours,” says Brian Concannon, executive director of the Boston-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, which brought the suit. “The liability is so clear and the damage is so great.”
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