UN ad­mits role in deadly Haiti cholera out­break

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

THE United Na­tions ac­knowl­edged on Thurs­day that it played a role in the 2010 Haiti cholera out­break that has killed nearly 10 000 Haitians and in­fected more than 770 000.

Farhan Haq, the deputy spokesman for UN Sec­re­taryGen­eral Ban Ki-moon, promised a “sig­nif­i­cant new set of UN ac­tions” to re­spond to the epi­demic, fol­low­ing a con­fi­den­tial re­port sent to the UN chief that was crit­i­cal of the world body’s ac­tions.

A draft of the re­port, pre­pared by New York Univer­sity law pro­fes­sor Philip Al­ston, who serves as a spe­cial rap­por­teur ad­vis­ing the UN on hu­man rights is­sues, said the cri­sis “would not have bro­ken out but for the ac­tions of the United Na­tions,” ac­cord­ing to the New York Times.

“This is a ma­jor vic­tory for the thou­sands of Haitians who have been march­ing for jus­tice, writ­ing to the UN and bring­ing the UN to court,” said Mario Joseph, a Haitian hu­man rights lawyer rep­re­sent­ing vic­tims of the epi­demic. “It is high time for the UN to make this right and prove to the world that ‘hu­man rights for all’ means for Haitians too.”

Al­ready one of the world’s poor­est coun­tries, Haiti was reel­ing from a dev­as­tat­ing earthquake on Jan­uary 12, 2010, that killed more than 200,000 peo­ple when its mis­ery was com­pounded by the cholera out­break.

The epi­demic broke out near a base hous­ing hun­dreds of Nepali peace­keep­ers.

“Over the past year, the UN has be­come con­vinced that it needs to do much more re­gard­ing its own in­volve­ment in the ini­tial out­break and the suf­fer­ing of those af­fected by cholera,” the UN spokesman said.

Epi­demi­ol­o­gists iden­ti­fied the Haitian strain of the ill­ness as one that orig­i­nated in Nepal where Cholera is en­demic. Haiti had pre­vi­ously been cholera-free for more than 100 years.

Ac­cord­ing to UN fig­ures, more than 770 000 Haitians have since been in­fected by the dis­ease and nearly 10 000 have died from it since it broke out across the is­land na­tion in 2010.

Beatrice Lind­strom, a lawyer for the vic­tims’ fam­i­lies, told re­porters that the UN “must fol­low this an­nounce­ment with ac­tion”. — Al Jazeera.

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