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Families Of Haitian Cholera Victims React To U.N. Decision To Deny Compensation For Deaths

“The United Nations has come under heavy political fire for its decision to deny compensation for thousands of victims of cholera in Haiti — a deadly disease spread by U.N. peacekeepers in the troubled Caribbean nation,” Inter Press Service reports (Deen, 2/22). “More than 8,000 Haitians have died from the epidemic and 500,000 people, some five percent of the population, have fallen sick since the disease entered the impoverished Caribbean nation’s water system in October 2010,” the Independent notes, adding, “The claims were filed on behalf of 5,000 victims in 2011 by the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, a Boston-based human rights group” (Popham, 2/23). “On Thursday, U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters that the representatives of cholera victims have been advised that their ‘claims are not receivable pursuant to Section 29 of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities,’” IPS writes (2/22).

According to the Independent, the families of the victims “vowed to continue their fight to hold the U.N. to account after it rejected their claims for compensation, citing diplomatic immunity.” The newspaper notes, “The U.N. initially denied all responsibility, but in 2012 released a report admitting ‘the strains [of cholera] isolated in Nepal and Haiti were a perfect match,’” adding, “But the report went on to argue that ‘a confluence of factors’ was behind the epidemic, which was therefore ‘not the fault, or deliberate action, of a particular individual’” (2/23). A video report from Al Jazeera examines the reactions of the families of some of those who have died in the epidemic (Levin, 2/23).