Yale Law report: UN should be held accountable for Haiti cholera outbreak
In a report published Tuesday by The Transnational Development Clinic and The Global Health Justice Partnership of Yale law school and L’Association Haïtienne de Droit de l’Environnement, researchers say that there is ample scientific evidence to show U.N. troops from Nepal inadvertently brought cholera to Haiti in October 2010 and the United Nations should be held responsible.
The report, “Peacekeeping Without Accountability”, addresses the responsibility of the UN for the cholera epidemic in Haiti—one of the largest cholera epidemics in modern history.
In a summary of their findings, the report concludes:
- The cholera epidemic in Haiti is directly traceable to U.N. Mission for the Stabilization in Haiti (MINUSTAH) peacekeepers and the inadequate waste infrastructure at their base in Méyè, and
- The U.N.’s refusal to establish a claims commission for the victims of the epidemic violates its contractual obligation to Haiti under international law, and
- By introducing cholera into Haiti and denying any form of remedy to victims of the epidemic, the U.N. has failed to uphold its duties under international human rights law, and
- The U.N.’s introduction of cholera into Haiti and refusal to accept responsibility for doing so has violated principles of international humanitarian aid.
In January 2010, a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, killing thousands and seriously damaging an already fragile infrastructure.
However, the report points out, Between October 19–20, 2010, nine months after the earthquake, health officials confirmed eight cases of cholera in a remote region of central Haiti. Cholera had not been observed in the country in over a century. The disease spread at an alarming rate, rapidly causing severe cases of diarrhea, dehydration, and death.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of May 22, 2013, 657,117 cases and 8,096 deaths have been reported since the cholera epidemic began in Haiti.
The report says that the scientific investigations show that MINUSTAH troops were exposed to cholera in Nepal, and their feces contaminated the water supply near the base.
In addition, based on molecular analysis, the Haiti cholera outbreak is traceable to a single cholera strain of South Asian origin found in Nepal.
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