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

Photogallery South Africa Bans Travelers From Ebola-stricken Countries

South Africans returning from affected West African countries will be thoroughly screened, required to fill out medical questionnaire, health minister says More

Multimedia UN Launches ‘Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years’ in Iraq

Move aims to help thousands of Iraqi religious minorities who fled their homes as Kurdish, Iraqi government forces battle Sunni insurgents More

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

IT specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about disease 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.
Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbasi
X
Scott Stearns
August 21, 2014 9:20 PM
The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Peru's Congress Fails to Ratify Humala's New Cabinet

Key conservative allies withheld their votes, failure underscores president's waning political power as economy slows
More

US Judge Calls Argentina Debt-Swap Plan 'Illegal'

But, Judge Thomas Griesa stopped short of holding country in contempt, saying that would not help resolve dispute that led to nation's second default in a dozen years
More

Brazil Presidential Race Gets One More Candidate

Environmentalist Marina Silva to join contest for Socialist Party candidate; vote to be held October 5
More

Guatemalan General Killed in Copter Crash Near Mexico Border

General Rudy Ortiz was among five people killed; cause under investigation; weather said to have been possible factor
More

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month
More

Pope's Relatives Killed in Argentina Car Crash

Family of pontiff's nephew killed after car plows into truck
More