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Rights Group Files Claim With U.N. Seeking Reparations For Haitians Affected By Cholera

The Boston-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti on Tuesday “filed claims with the United Nations seeking damages on behalf of more than 5,000 Haitian cholera victims and their families,” the Associated Press/San Francisco Chronicle reports (Daniel, 11/8).

“The human rights group argues that infected U.N. peacekeeping troops from Nepal, where cholera is endemic, caused the outbreak by dumping untreated waste from their rural base camp into a tributary of the most important river in the earthquake-ravaged Caribbean nation,” and the group is seeking “hundreds of millions of dollars in reparations” for some of the more than 6,700 Haitians who have died of the disease and close to a half million who have contracted it, Reuters notes (Guyler-Delva, 11/8). According to Agence France-Presse, the “legal claim [is] demanding $100,000 dollars for each death and $50,000 for each person made sick” (11/8). “Brian Concannon, who is based in Boston and is the director at the Institute of Justice and Democracy in Haiti, helped organize a petition from Haitian victims and relatives of victims, before filing the claim to the U.N. simultaneously with a claim to its peacekeeping mission MINUSTAH in Haiti, last Thursday,” Inter Press Service writes (Siagian, 11/8).

At a press conference Tuesday, U.N. spokesperson Martin Nesirky “told reporters he disputed the claim of U.N. responsibility for the cholera in Haiti” and “said the peacekeeping mission and other agencies were working to control the spread of the disease and treat it,” Reuters reports (11/8). “He confirmed that the U.N. and MINUSTAH had received the letter and it would be looked at by the relevant part of the peacekeeping department,” IPS writes (11/8). “Concannon said he hoped the U.N. mission would set up a tribunal to evaluate the claims” and that “the U.N. force would create a lifesaving program that would provide sanitation, potable water and medical treatment. He also said he wants a public apology,” according to the AP (11/8).