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October 09, 2013

Lawsuit Demands UN Pay for Haitian Cholera Outbreak

by VOA News

A U.S.-based advocacy group has filed a lawsuit demanding the United Nations provide compensation to the families of thousands of Haitians killed by a cholera outbreak.

The Boston-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti filed the suit Wednesday in New York, the site of the U.N. headquarters.

Studies have traced the cholera outbreak in Haiti to U.N. peacekeeping troops from Nepal, where the disease is endemic.  The peacekeepers are suspected of spreading the disease into the Haitian water supply through poor sanitation at their camp.  Cholera had not been documented in Haiti for decades, and the strain responsible for the outbreak is one that is prevalent in South Asia.

But the U.N. has rejected the compensation claims, saying it is protected by legal immunity.

More than 8,000 Haitians have died from cholera since the outbreak began in October 2010, just months after Haiti's devastating earthquake.  The lawyers working on behalf of the victims say more than 650,000 have gotten sick.