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Victims of the Cholera Epidemic in Haiti Demand the U.N. Admit Responsibility for the Outbreak, Pay Compensation

skynews.img.1200.745Victims of the cholera epidemic that has claimed some 9,000 lives in Haiti gathered Thursday before the headquarters of the U.N. Mission for the Stabilization of Haiti to deliver 2,000 letters addressed to the Security Council asking the world body to admit its responsibility for the outbreak and pay compensation.

The U.N. force, known as Minustah, has been in the country for more than a decade.

Reports by internationally respected scientists have traced the origin of the cholera epidemic to a contingent of Nepalese troops who arrived in Haiti in 2010 to serve with Minustah, the United Nations, however, has never officially accepted responsibility.

“As the body in charge of the Minustah, the Security Council is the one responsible for ensuring that said mission complies with international laws and human rights,” said Mario Joseph, a human rights lawyer who leads the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, or BAI.

The event was held to coincide with the commemoration of Human Rights Day 67 years after the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The demonstrators carried signs alluding to their situation bearing messages like “Five years of impunity for the U.N.: 9,000 lives lost.”

The drafting of the letters by the cholera victims is a BAI initiative and was undertaken by residents of Haiti’s rural zones who have lost relatives to cholera or survived the disease themselves.

This group of people meets weekly, at the behest of the BAI, to receive training and information about their rights.

“International Human Rights Day is the U.N.’s celebration of the human rights and dignity of all people in the world. How can the U.N. have a moral position of promoting human rights and dignity and Haiti when it is violating the rights of the cholera victims?” asked Joseph.

The cholera victims in Haiti have been seeking justice since 2010.

In the letters delivered on Thursday, and which will also be sent to Security Council member nations, the victims ask for their “basic right to a solution” to be recognized and for the U.N. to officially take the blame for the epidemic.

Authorities place the number of cholera epidemic deaths in Haiti at 9,000, while some 745,000 people have been infected.

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