Haiti Cholera Victims Seek Damages from United Nations
Above: Haitian wait for cholera treatment at a center in Haiti (UN Photo: Sophia Paris)
By the Caribbean Journal staff
More than 5,000 Haitians, either victims of cholera or relatives of victims, have submitted claims to the United Nations and the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti for damages from the alleged introduction of cholera in Haiti by UN forces.
The petition is seeking several hundred million dollars for what it alleges was a failure to properly screen UN peacekeepers traveling from other countries in which cholera existed, dumping untreated wastes from a UN base directly into a tributary of Haiti’s Arbonite river and failing to adequately respond to the epidemic.
“This is an opportunity for the United Nations to demonstrate that its stated ideals of eliminating disease and encouraging respect for rights are not just empty promises,” said Mario Joseph, attorney for Bureau des Avocats Internationaux in Haiti.
Haiti’s cholera epidemic could last for decades, Partners in Health’s Joia Mukherjee told Caribbean Journal earlier this year.
A study in August found that cholera found in Haiti was nearly identical to a strain found in Nepal, the alleged source of Haiti’s cholera.
“The majority of the petition’s facts come from UN reports,” said Brian Concannon, the director of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. “The UN developed much of the law we cite. Our clients are challenging the institution to act consistently with what it knows to be true and just.”