Over 5500 deaths and 300.000 officially diagnosed cases since the outbreak of a cholera epidemic in Haiti, last October; yet the United Nations is treating the disease as incidental to that country’s poverty. This year alone, three-quarter of a million of Haitians are expected to be infected by this preventable disease from which thousands more could die. But in response to the findings published by the Atlanta-based Centers for Diseases Control (CDC) linking the cholera epidemic to a MINUSTAH-attached battalion of Nepalese soldiers, a UN spokesperson dispassionately commented that the organization is “aware of the report and as with other prior reports, we will study its findings diligently.” This is in accordance with a UN tradition of burying politically-sensitive issues under the pile of “further studies needed”, a stalling tactic that invariably works for the organization.
The UN indifference to Haitian lives is such that the World Health Organization (WHO) had originally refused to investigate the origin of the cholera epidemic. “At some time we will do further investigation, but it’s not a priority right now,” commented spokeswoman Fadela Chaib last November. Needless to say, this is strange reaction from an organization that is chartered to help its members deal with health crisis. As I said before, it seems that the UN discovers a primitive tribe (Haitians) in the middle of the Caribbean Sea and sets out to bring it to the norms of civilization. Accordingly, until the tribe achieves certain unidentified or not publically shared criteria formulated by the Security Council, it will not be accepted as a sovereign nation as enumerated by the UN Charter. That helps explain why Article 2 (1) of the UN Charter, which states “The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members”, does not apply to Haiti, one of its founding members.
Basically, the United Nations, whose own fact-findings panel blames “confluence of circumstances” (environmental contamination of the Meille River by Nepalese troops, poor sanitation and health-care system deficiencies) for the outbreak, is second-guessing the findings of the world’s foremost institution of research against infectious diseases. No Haitian health professional was included in the Ban Ki-Moon-appointed panel, a fact that underscores the temerity and condescension of the occupiers. The only surprise in the convoluted UN report was the omission of Jean Bertrand Aristide and Lavalas as a factor.
Now that the cat is out of the bag, it is incumbent on the UN to do the right thing by repatriating the cholera-carrier Nepalese soldiers; establishing stringent requirements for its colonial troops in Haiti and compensating the victims and their families, seeing that the organization is in no hurry to end its devious endeavor. Meanwhile, the UN is conveniently pushing ahead with its benevolence by launching a military operation to rid many poor neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince (Bel-Air, Martissant and Sité Solèy) of the undesirables it believes pose a greater threat to the Haitian people than a transient epidemic for which the organization is being unfairly blamed.
The UN will never assume responsibility for the cholera epidemic, because any admission of guilt theoretically puts the organization in violation of the international laws that it is mandated to uphold. Since Haiti is under a military occupation, the actions of the Nepalese soldiers violate Article 32 of the Fourth Geneva Convention which states “A protected person/s shall not have anything done to them of such a character as to cause physical suffering or extermination…” The UN military operation against criminality, the latest out of many since 2004, is a diversionary tactic meant to cover this inconvenient truth.
In theory, the Nepalese soldiers’ frequent dumping of feces into the Meille River, which subsequently provoked the cholera outbreak, amounted to war crimes as they have factually caused physical suffering and mass extermination of innocent Haitians. The UN can maintain that these actions were not deliberate, but cannot escape the reality that the Nepalese soldiers were negligent or acted in blatant disregard for the well being of the persons they are protecting under the Security Council mandates. The UN can also argue that its health programs and the millions it has spent in the fight to contain the epidemic certainly prevented the deaths of thousands more Haitians, but this reasoning would be hypothetical at best. The truth is: there wouldn’t be a cholera epidemic without the UN occupation. Moreover, we have travelled that road before with the French; at some point, Haitians might be compelled to reimburse the UN for the expenses incurred during its occupation of Haiti.
A comprehensive look at the UN occupation of Haiti (2004-?) reveals a string of violent incidents that highlights a manifest indifference to the lives and well being of the Haitian people by their supposed benefactor. The rounding-ups, beatings, shootings and arbitrary imprisonments of Haitian citizens, opposed to the UN-sponsored Latortue regime (2004-06) by, or with the consent of, MINUSTAH, were collective punishments to suppress the resistance against the occupation, hence amounted to war crimes. So was the firing of 22.000 high caliber bullets by Brazilian and Jordanian soldiers on June 6th, 2006 during a UN security operation against an alleged gangster, which resulted in the untimely deaths of innocent civilians. A successful propaganda does have a lifespan; sooner or later the UN would need to explain to the same gullible Haitians who believe in its benevolence why their economic conditions have deteriorated under the occupation.
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