U.S. courts must decide if United Nations is responsible for bringing cholera to Haiti

CBC Radio – Ana Maria Tremonti
There is a cry for justice from those who blame the United Nations for Haiti’s cholera outbreak. The UN has responded with a deafening silence, but now the matter is headed to court. We find out more about the lawsuit and its potential implications.

In 2010, one of the world’s deadliest earthquakes hit one of its most vulnerable countries–Haiti. It’s not really known how many people were killed, some estimates suggest as many as 230,000. The quake and its after shocks injured thousands and displaced more than a million people. But there was more; Cholera broke out.

“People are angry, venting their frustrations at the UN, at the government, at anyone who will listen, as they watch their loved ones fall victim to cholera.”

The CBC’s Connie Watson, reporting on the outbreak

After that report, cholera went on to kill thousands more, and is still striking Haitians four years later.

Many blame the outbreak on the United Nations. They say Nepalese peackeepers introduced the bacteria through sewage contamination from their barracks. Some Haitians are hoping legal action will result in some restitution. Their case comes to a pivotal step next week at a hearing in a U.S. court.

One of the plaintiffs is a 41-year-old Haitian, Lizette Paul. Broadcaster France 24 recently interviewed Ms. Paul, who lost eight family members, including her daughter, to the outbreak.

“Since the children’s father died in 2012, we can’t afford to send them to school. They’re also the victims of cholera. Now, we don’t even have enough money to feed ourselves.”

Lizette Paul

Plaintiffs such as Lizette Paul say the United Nations did not do enough to help cholera victims and it shouldn’t hide behind diplomatic immunity.

To find out more, we were joined by three guests:

We invited the United Nations to respond, but they declined our request.

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This segment was produced by The Current’s Shannon Higgins and Marc Apollonio.

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