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Human rights experts still dissatisfied with UN cholera response in Haiti

By Sam Bojarski

It’s been more than three years since former United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon issued a public apology for the international peacekeeping organization’s role in Haiti’s cholera outbreak. 

Haitian victims of the disease ‒ which has killed more than 10,000 and infected well over 800,000 people since its reintroduction to the country in 2010 ‒ have, in many cases, grown discouraged about the possibility for reparations.

“In Haiti right now, most people, they really don’t believe they will get reparation for what happened with the UN and cholera,” said Soeurette Michel, a Florida-based attorney who filed legal briefs on behalf of Haiti’s cholera victims, for a past lawsuit involving the UN.

Fourteen UN human rights experts criticized the lack of direct compensation and funding shortfalls for cholera victims in a joint statement to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in April. The statement also said the UN’s “New Approach to Cholera in Haiti,” launched in 2016, has been “fundamentally inadequate.” While Guterres issued a response on June 26, human rights advocates have maintained that the secretary general still has not addressed key concerns about the cholera response that the UN’s own experts have voiced. 

A UN vehicle drives through the streets of Port-au-Prince.

The UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), which ended in October 2017, improperly disposed contaminated fecal waste into a tributary of the Artibonite River in late 2010, leading to the cholera outbreak in Haiti. Peacekeeping troops from Nepal, which was suffering its own cholera outbreak at the time, have been identified as the source of Haiti’s epidemic. 

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Sam Bojarski

Sam Bojarski

Sam Bojarski has been covering Haiti and its diaspora for The Haitian Times since 2018. He is currently covering New York's Haitian community as a Report for America corps member.
Sam Bojarski
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Jul. 11, 2020