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NO THANKS: Haitian cholera victims sue United Nations due to Nepalese peacekeepers fouling water system

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
October 9th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

It's a shining example of an agency - that intended to help distressed people in crisis succeeded in only making things worse. Victims of the 2010 cholera epidemic in Haiti, which followed a devastating earthquake there, have filed a lawsuit against the United Nations. The lawsuit claims that peacekeepers from Nepal only befouled the already taxed water system - spreading cholera throughout the land in the process.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The ensuing epidemic, which killed around 8,300 people and made more than 650,000 people fall ill came from contaminated waste from U.N. Barracks. Studies have shown that the disease was likely introduced to the country by Nepalese peacekeepers, where the cholera is endemic.

Tests linked the spread to a flawed sanitation system at the base, which in turn contaminated a tributary that feeds Haiti's largest river, used for both drinking and bathing.

The United Nations said earlier this year that it would not pay compensation in the case. The organization insists that it was immune from such claims. A U.N. Official however, recently made a rare case for compensation for the victims.
 
High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay didn't say who she thought should pay while activists have demanded the world body provide compensation.

"I have used my voice both inside the United Nations and outside to call for the right - for an investigation by the United Nations, by the country concerned, and I still stand by the call that victims of - of those who suffered as a result of that cholera be provided with compensation," Pillay said at an awards ceremony for human rights activists in Geneva. Pillay's remarks were a rare admission by a U.N. official about the need to provide compensation.

Lawyers are filing the suit in the U.S. District Court in New York's Southern District. "The plaintiffs include Haitians and Haitian Americans who contracted cholera themselves as well as family members of those who died of the disease," the Boston-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti said in a statement.

Cholera is an acute intestinal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. From less than one day to five days, cholera produces an enterotoxin which causes a copious, painless, watery diarrhea that can quickly lead to severe dehydration and death if treatment is not promptly given.

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