The United Nations refuses to compensate hundreds of thousands of Haitians infected with cholera, which UN aid workers introduced into the island’s water supply. There had been no instances of the disease on the island in decades.
On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge J. Paul Oetken in Manhattan held that the United Nations is shielded from having to pay compensation due to governmental immunity. Under the 1946 Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, the international body possesses broad immunity worldwide to carry out its functions without the possibility of being held civilly liable if it is negligent.
The Haitian claim arose in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that hit the island nation on January 12, 2010, which killed over 100,000 of its people. International aid workers flowed into the nation to help in the humanitarian crisis. Among the workers came a contingent from Nepal. The Nepalese improperly handled human waste at their base, causing the bacterial disease to enter the Haitian water supply.
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To date, nearly 9000 Haitian have died from cholera; and over 700,000 have been infected with the disease. The UN has pledged to help fight the disease; but rather than bring the number of infected down, the spread of the disease has actually ticked back up this year.
As reported in Business Insider:
The UN has refused to acknowledge its culpability even as it became apparent that if it weren’t for the UN’s deficient screening of its peacekeepers and the negligence of its Nepalese peacekeeping contingent in Haiti, there wouldn’t be any cholera in Haiti at all.
The UN is required to set up alternative mechanisms within the UN system so that it can redress complaints without waiving immunity. But it hasn’t done this yet for Haitian cholera victims, since it doesn’t think it’s responsible for the outbreak.