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UN Sued Over Haiti Cholera Epidemic

haiti choleraA court case has been launched in New York over thousands of deaths in Haiti blamed on sewage discharge from United Nations’ barracks.

Victims of the 2010 cholera outbreak are filing a compensation claim demanding that billions of dollars in damages be paid to survivors and the relatives of those killed, according to a report on theguardian.com.

The outbreak has killed more than 8,000 Haitians and made 650,000 ill, according to officials. Scientific studies have shown the cholera strain was likely introduced to the country by U.N. troops from Nepal, where the disease is endemic, when contaminated sewage was discharged from their barracks into a watercourse. Before that time, cholera cases had been rare in Haiti.

The U.N. maintains it has legal immunity from such compensation claims and has formally rejected claims from Haitians affected. The case is being pursued by the Boston-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti and will be filed on Wednesday in the Manhattan federal district court, theguardian.com reports.

 According to The Atlantic, an August 2013 report, “Peacekeeping Without Accountability,” provides scientific evidence to demonstrate that the U.N. brought cholera to Haiti and argues that the organization’s refusal to hold itself accountable to the Haitian people is both immoral and illegal. The report was released by the Transnational Development Clinic at Yale Law School (YLS) and the Global Health Justice Partnership, an initiative of YLS and the Yale School of Public Health.

International law, including the U.N. Charter, human rights treaties, and status-of-forces agreements, requires that the U.N. provide individuals affected by its peacekeeping operations with mechanisms for bringing claims against the organization.

UN Must Admit Role in Haiti’s Cholera Outbreak That Has Killed Thousands

Extensive documentation by scientists and journalists, including Armin Rosen at The Atlantic, demonstrate that peacekeeping troops from the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti inadvertently but negligently brought cholera into the country several months after the January 2010 earthquake.

That October, troops from Nepal carrying the disease were stationed at a military base near the town of Méyè. Because of inadequate water and sanitation facilities at the base, cholera-infected sewage contaminated the Artibonite River, the largest river in Haiti and one the country’s main water sources.

As locals consumed the contaminated water, cholera spread across the country. Absent from Haiti for over a century, cholera is now projected to plague the country for at least another decade.


 

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