The UN has claimed diplomatic immunity, but has been blamed for 800,000 Haitians getting sick.
The United Nations is now admitting for the first time that it was involved in introducing cholera to Haiti, and it had a greater responsibility to help the more than 800,000 who are suffering from the disease. Researchers believe that it is likely cholera was introduced to a river in Haiti in October 2010 that was had inadequately treated sewage dumped in it from a U.N. peacekeeping base, according to a USA Today report.
The U.N. had never accepted responsibility in the years since and has invoked diplomatic immunity to counter lawsuits filed against it. However, the U.N. has now admitted to its involvement, accordin gto the report.
A U.S. federal appeals panel recently upheld the U.N.’s immunity claim, and cholera victims will now consider whether to appeal.
Experts believe that cholera has killed more than 9,000 people in the country, and was killing an average of 37 people of month as of March. Sewage is a big problem in Haiti, where a minority have access to a toilet and sewage is rarely treated.
“Cholera is an acute, diarrheal illness caused by infection of the intestine with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae,” according to the CDC. “An estimated 3-5 million cases and over 100,000 deaths occur each year around the world. The infection is often mild or without symptoms, but can sometimes be severe. Approximately one in 10 (5-10%) infected persons will have severe disease characterized by profuse watery diarrhea, vomiting, and leg cramps. In these people, rapid loss of body fluids leads to dehydration and shock. Without treatment, death can occur within hours.”