Last week we saw the very real dangers of participating in international aid missions in less civilized parts of the world. However, aid workers and security forces are themselves sometimes the cause of unexpected - and very dangerous - problems.
The United Nations’ wall of denial concerning its responsibility for Haiti’s six-year-old cholera epidemic - and claims of diplomatic immunity regarding the consequences - appears to be crumbling.
In a statement issued Wednesday, a U.N. spokesperson declared that the world body “has become convinced that it needs to do much more regarding its own involvement” in the “initial outbreak” of the vicious cholera epidemic that first exploded in 2010, and has killed more than 9,300 Haitians while infecting at least 780,000 overall.
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Since 2011, the U.N. has hidden behind a report from a hand-picked panel of experts who pin-pointed the source of the ongoing epidemic as infected human sewage from a contingent of Nepalese peacekeepers in Haiti, part of a U.N. force known as MINUSTAH but then maintained the outbreak “was not the fault of, or deliberate action of, a group or individual.”
Some members of the expert panel have since changed their minds, as waves of other scientific researchers have shown that the specific cholera strain in the Haitian epidemic could be linked genetically to a strain in Nepal, and that an outbreak had occurred in that country just before its peacekeepers joined the MINUSTAH force.
Even while hiding behind the panel’s wording, the U.N. in 2013 invoked immunity to insulate itself from a class action lawsuit launched by Haitians who lost family members or suffered from the disease. The U.S. State Department has backed the U.N.’s immunity defense.
On Thursday a U.S. appeals court dismissed the lawsuit, in effect deferring to the U.N.’s assertion of immunity. The Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, which has pressed the lawsuit, says it is studying the court decision.
Meantime, the U.N.’s frequent expressions of concern for Haiti’s cholera victims—piggy-backed on pleas for international donors to support an elaborate, multi-billion-dollar water and sanitation development scheme for Haiti—have worn thin, especially in light of its stonewalling attitude on responsibility and troubling signs that nothing else about its behavior in Haiti has changed all that much.
A long-suppressed internal U.N. report examined by Fox News last week has shown that four years after the initial outbreak, U.N. peacekeepers in Haiti were continuing to violate almost all of their own sanitary rules for containing the disease—including the dumping of sewage into public waterways.
There's more at the link.
Sounds like yet another evasion of responsibility by the United Nations. In Africa, sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers - including overwhelming evidence of the sexual exploitation of children - is a well-known phenomenon. One wonders whether cholera is the only 'souvenir' of their presence the UN will leave behind on Haiti.