PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Aug. 18 (UPI) — U.N. officials acknowledge for the first time the role peacekeepers played in a 2010 cholera outbreak in Haiti that left some 10,000 people dead.
The Office of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in the past year, “the U.N. 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.”
U.N. officials for years have refused to acknowledge any role in the cholera outbreak that also sickened hundreds of thousands. Many suspected peacekeeping troops from Nepal brought the disease with them to Haiti after the January 2010 earthquake. A cholera outbreak was underway in Nepal at the time.
The deputy spokesman for the secretary-general, Farhan Haq, told The New York Times the United Nations will draft a new response within two months and present it “once it has been fully elaborated, agreed with the Haitian authorities and discussed with member states.”
“This is a major victory for the thousands of Haitians who have been marching for justice, writing to the U.N. and bringing the U.N. to court,” said Mario Joseph, a Haitian human rights lawyer representing victims of the epidemic.
The secretary-general stopped short of saying the United Nations caused the outbreak. The organization continues to hold the position it is immune from legal action as a result of the outbreak.