Rights Group Accuses U.N. of Causing Cholera Epidemic in Haiti

A human-rights group is seeking damages from the United Nations over claims the agency's forces caused a cholera outbreak in Haiti.

The Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti is seeking damages from the United Nations over claims the U.N.'s peacekeeping forces caused a cholera outbreak in the country in 2010. The Boston-based rights group says untreated waste from a U.N. base was dumped into a tributary of Haiti's most important river.
The cholera epidemic has killed over 6,600 Haitians and sickened more than 475,000 since it surfaced in October 2010, according to the Health Ministry.
The Boston-basef group says that the U.N. is liable for hundreds of millions of dollars for failing to adequately screen and treat peacekeeping soldiers arriving from countries experiencing cholera epidemics, dumping untreated wastes from a U.N. base directly into a tributary of Haiti’s longest  and failing to adequately respond to the epidemic.
"The sickness, death and ongoing harm from cholera suffered by Haiti's citizens are a product of the U.N.'s multiple failures," reads the complaint. "These failures constitute negligence, gross negligence, recklessness and deliberate indifference for the lives of Haitians."
Evidence suggests that the disease was brought to Haiti by a U.N. battalion from Nepal, where cholera is endemic, and spread throughout the country after a local contractor failed to properly sanitize a U.N. base, writes the Associated Press.
A U.N. spokeswoman said she was aware of a pending complaint.

The advocacy group has asked the U.N. to form an independent claims commission to review their complaint, and award them financial compensation for victims. It is also seeking an apology and greater investment by the U.N. in efforts to eradicate the deadly disease.


(Photo: THONY BELIZAIRE/AFP/Getty Images)

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