United Nations admit role in Haitian cholera outbreak of 2010

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Friday, August 19, 2016

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For the first time, the United Nations (U.N) has acknowledged its involvement in the Haiti cholera outbreak of 2010, admitting the disease was carried by Nepalese peace workers, contracted with the earthquake relief on behalf of the U.N.. In an email sent this week, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon admitted that the U.N. played a role in the spread of the disease, which affected hundreds of thousands of Haitian people, but he stopped short of admitting sole culpability for the epidemic.

New York University law professor Philip Alston, convinced Secretary General Ban-ki Moon, that the U.N.’s operation lack of basic hygiene checks was legally indefensible: as quoted in the Washington Post.

Image of cholera bacteria though a scanning electron microscope.
Image: Ronald Taylor, Tom Kirn, Louisa Howard.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the gastrointestinal illness hadn’t been recorded on the island nation prior to this outbreak, inviting immediate speculation over how it began.

Medical researchers tracked the disease to Haiti and found that Nepalese representatives had worked for the United Nations immediately after a mission in Nepal where cholera was present.

Reports from the United Nations indicate that this admission will lead to an overhaul in approaches to peacekeeping missions. According to a statement from Farhan Haq, the deputy spokesperson for the Secretary General, these changes will be developed over the next two months.

The U.N. have long maintained legal immunity in national courts, resulting in the dismissal of a class-action lawsuit in the United States addressing the cholera involvement on Thursday.

The lawsuit was brought by representatives of the victims and their families and sought reparations for the damages brought by the cholera outbreak. The plaintiffs now have the option to appeal to the U.S Supreme Court to overturn this decision.


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