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

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees 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.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

More Americas News

Obama Hopes for US Embassy in Cuba Before April Summit

But, in interview with Reuters president also cautions it will take more time to fully establish normal relations with Cuba after more than a half-century rupture
More

US Agriculture Delegation Visits Cuba, Protests Embargo

Delegation began three days of meetings Monday, hoping to find potential business partners, while urging Congress to lift embargo on trade with the island
More

Venezuela Tells US to Downsize Embassy Staff

President Nicolas Maduro claimed Saturday that Venezuela has detained American spies
More

Fidel Castro Finally Meets 'Cuban Five,' Spies Turned Heroes

Spies returned home as heroes after serving long prison terms in US, 73 days after last of them were freed in prisoner swap
More

Vazquez Sworn in as Uruguay President

Oncologist, 75, previously held presidency from 2005-2010; he takes leadership role from highly popular Jose Mujica, also of Broad Front Coalition
More

Venezuela: Arrested US Pilot Was Spying

Nicolas Maduro says American was caught with 'documentation'; US Embassy offers no comment
More