IJDH 2022 Publication in The Lancet Regional Health – Americas Urges the UN to Provide Cholera Victims with Compensation in Light of Its Impending Announcement on Elimination

March 25, 2022 – As the UN prepares to announce cholera’s official elimination from Haiti, today’s publication in The Lancet Regional Health – Americas by Dr. Susan Bartels, Associate Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Queen’s University, and Sandra Wisner, Senior Staff Attorney at the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), documents the UN’s refusal to eliminate the continued misery caused by its reckless introduction of cholera to Haiti in 2010, and to satisfy its international law obligations. 

Last month, the UN Deputy Secretary-General explained that eliminating cholera from Haiti would allow them to cross “the finish line” and “close the tragic chapter of cholera” with dignity. However, today’s publication explains that elimination “does not remove the need for the UN to provide meaningful reparations for the loss and devastation suffered,” that victims have been fighting for over the last 11 years. As Sandra Wisner, one of the authors of the publication, notes, “There is no finish line for children forced to leave school because they could not afford the fees after the UN’s cholera killed their parents; there is no closing the chapter for families still struggling with debts from lost wages, medical treatment, and funeral expenses.” Six years following the outbreak, the UN apologized to Haitians for its role and promised to provide material assistance to those most affected. However, to date, no compensation has been paid.

The publication references two studies from 2017 and 2019 that illustrate the struggle that Haitian families continue to face in trying to remedy the lasting socioeconomic impacts of the epidemic without any compensation from the UN. It notes, “Today, 11 years after the introduction of cholera, those harmed by the epidemic are worse off in the absence of effective remedy that is rightfully due to them.” Instead, the UN has provided a few development projects that do not target victims but that instead aim to satisfy basic needs that citizens already have a right to.

The publication urges the UN to provide cholera victims with the ‘material assistance’ committed to them over five years ago.