UN Sued Over Haiti Cholera Outbreak

Victims claim peacekeepers spread disease through bad sewerage system
By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 9, 2013 8:42 AM CDT
UN Sued Over Haiti Cholera Outbreak
A woman suffering from cholera symptoms receives serum at a hospital in Haiti.   (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

(Newser) – It's cholera in the time of litigation: Haitian victims of the disease are filing a lawsuit against the UN, claiming peacekeepers are responsible for the outbreak that has killed more than 8,300 and sickened some 650,000 there since 2010. The Boston-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, which is preparing the lawsuit, already tried to get the UN to pay compensation to victims and their families in 2011, reports Reuters, but an independent UN panel at the time found the origin of the disease was inconclusive.

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However, other studies have linked the outbreak to UN peacekeepers from Nepal, suggesting they carried a distinct strain of the disease, which leaked into Haitian water supplies through a bad sanitation system, the New York Times reports. "We are asking for the judge to find the United Nations liable," says an IJDH spokeswomen. "It has violated its legal obligations through reckless actions that brought cholera to Haiti." The suit will be filed at a US District Court in New York today, though it's unclear whether the court will actually accept it—one legal expert tells the Times the UN is generally immune from domestic lawsuits. (Read more Haiti stories.)

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