News / Americas

Haiti Cholera Victims Demand UN Payment

Demonstrators dance around a fake coffin with the UN initials on it during a protest against the United Nations, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, October 19, 2011.
Demonstrators dance around a fake coffin with the UN initials on it during a protest against the United Nations, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, October 19, 2011.
Margaret Besheer

Lawyers representing more than 5,000 victims of Haiti’s cholera outbreak have presented the United Nations with a petition demanding millions of dollars in compensation and an apology.

The epidemic, which has been blamed on Nepalese peacekeepers, has killed more than 6,600 Haitians and sickened nearly half a million more since the outbreak in October of last year.

The U.S.-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (I.J.D.H.) in Haiti delivered the petition to U.N. headquarters last week and presented the U.N. mission in Haiti, known as MINUSTAH, with a copy as well.

The group says both entities are liable for the outbreak because they failed to adequately screen and treat peacekeepers arriving from countries experiencing cholera epidemics. The petition also says untreated waste from a U.N. base was dumped into a tributary of the Artibonite River - Haiti’s longest and most important waterway - and that officials then failed to adequately respond to the subsequent epidemic.

I.J.D.H. attorney Brian Concannon shared details of the petition with reporters on Tuesday.

"They are asking for $50,000 for every person who has become sick and did not die, [and] $100,000 for every victim of the U.N.’s cholera that did die," he said. "In terms of action, it is asking for effective medical treatment for people who do get cholera, but more importantly building the infrastructure that you need, especially clean water and sewage, to stop the epidemic. And third, the victims are asking for acknowledgement and an apology from the United Nations."

I.J.D.H. says 5,000 petitions have been filed, but that it expects many more will be filed during the next six months.

'A confluence of circumstances'


Cholera had not been documented in Haiti for decades. It appeared several months after the January 2010 earthquake that left thousands of people homeless and living in makeshift camps. Newly arrived Nepalese peacekeepers were suspected of bringing the disease into the country because cholera is endemic in Nepal.

In December, U.N. officials said MINUSTAH and the Haitian government had conducted tests of water samples from the Nepalese base, and the waters adjacent to it, which all proved negative.

In January, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon commissioned a panel of independent experts to investigate the matter. Their report, issued in May, found that the cholera bacteria was "introduced into Haiti as a result of human activity." But the report also noted that this particular bacterial variant was not native to Haiti and "is very similar to, but not identical, to the South Asian strain" of cholera.

The panel concluded that the outbreak was caused by "a confluence of circumstances" and that it was not "the fault of, or deliberate action of, a group or individual."

But petitioners say the opposite, arguing the outbreak is attributable to the "gross negligence, recklessness and deliberate indifference for the health and lives of Haiti’s citizens" by the U.N. and MINUSTAH.

U.N. Spokesman Martin Nesirky confirmed receipt of the petition but would not comment on it, only stating that the U.N.’s position is that of the experts’ report - a convergence of circumstances caused the outbreak.

"Our focus has to be on seeking to stop the spread and helping to treat those who have been hit with the cholera," said Nesirky.

I.J.D.H. representatives say they hope to meet with U.N. officials to discuss the petition. Lawyers for the group say they will pursue the matter in court in Haiti or New York if they cannot reach a settlement with the U.N.

They say immunity would not be upheld for the international organization in the case of introducing a disease into a country.

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

US Coast Guard Rescues 33 Cubans at Sea

Because the overloaded boat did not make landfall, those rescued will be returned to Cuba
More

Search Underway at New Site in Mexico Missing Students Case

This week marked one month since the students went missing after clashing with police in mysterious circumstances
More

Public Transport in Latin America, Asia Most Dangerous for Women

Thousands of women and gender experts were questioned to create the listing
More

Kerry Lays Wreath for Slain Canadian Soldier

World has been witness to Canada's strength in face of tragedy, he says
More

Crowds Gather for Funeral of Canadian Soldier Killed in Ottawa

Corporal Nathan Cirillo, 24, was shot dead in last week near Canada's parliament building in attack allegedly carried out by convert to Islam
More

Mexico Makes New Arrests in Student Disappearances

Attorney General says four more gang members from the Guerreros Unidos cartel who 'organized the disappearance' of the teacher trainees are in custody
More