How the U.N. caused Haiti's Cholera crisis -- and Won't Be Held Responsible
The organization is functionally above the law -- and victims of Haiti's cholera outbreak aren't the only ones paying the price.
As award-winning journalist Jonathan Katz established in a bombshell chapter of his recent book, The Big Truck That Went By,
a base for Nepalese U.N. peacekeepers next to the Artibonite River was the origin of the cholera epidemic that swept through Haiti in October of 2010. There had been no reported cases of cholera in Haiti for a century; now, the disease is endemic, and it is projected to kill as many as 1,000 people a year until it is eradicated, according to Brian Concannon, director of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti and a lawyer representing Haitian claimants against the U.N.
Former president Bill Clinton, the U.N.'s special envoy for Haiti, has admitted that U.N. peacekeepers were responsible for the outbreak. But Katz, the AP's Haiti correspondent in the years after the country's devastating 2010 earthquake, was at the receiving end of a bungled U.N. cover-up of the epidemic's cause. The World Body actively discouraged and even impeded journalists and public health investigators attempting to trace the causes of the pestilence. The U.N. never admitted responsibility, even as a U.N. commissioned-report left little room for doubt (the entire saga is recounted in Katz's chapter, which should be read in full).
Or was it a reasonable mistake, something that can justly be called an accident that few to none would have foreseen?
If it's the latter, how's this?
Nail the UN for the deaths, misery, and suffering. Have a proposed payment schedule worked out ahead of time, just in case the UN's found culpable (negligent or malicious). Then, if the UN's guilty, deduct the amount from the aid and support given by the UN--include the hours that UN staffers and troops worked at a wage comparable to similar jobs in their home country. If more is owed, then countries like the US, Nigeria, and Sri Lanka can pay more dues to cover the difference.
If what was "contributed" exceeds damages, have Haiti reimburse the UN. On the same payment schedule. And make sure to include payment for any injuries, illness, or death suffered by UN troops. Can't be hypocritical about this.
Then we can just call it even. They don't like the altruistic urge to help, even if the "good Samaritan" causes trouble? Then they obviously should make a point of rejecting such help in the future.