UN rejects Haitian compensation claims for cholera epidemic blamed on UN peacekeepers

The report however stopped short of faulting the peacekeepers for the epidemic, the first outbreak of cholera in Haiti in more than a century.

“The introduction of this cholera strain as a result of environmental contamination with feces could not have been the source of such an outbreak without simultaneous water and sanitation and health care system deficiencies,” the report said. “The Independent Panel concludes that the Haiti cholera outbreak was caused by [a] confluence of circumstances ... and was not the fault of, or deliberate action of, a group or individual.”

The U.N. in December launched a $2.2 billion campaign to rid Haiti and the neighboring Dominican Republic of the disease. Only about 10 percent of the funding has been identified so far, however.

“The new initiative will invest in prevention, treatment, and education — it will take a holistic approach to tackling the cholera challenge,” Ban said at the time. “The main focus is on the extension of clean drinking water and sanitation systems — but we are also determined to save lives now through the use of an oral cholera vaccine.”

Here is the full UN statement: 

New York, 21 February 2013 - Statement Attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on Haiti 

In November 2011, a claim for compensation was brought against the United Nations on behalf of victims of the cholera outbreak in Haiti.  Today, the United Nations advised the claimants’ representatives that the claims are not receivable pursuant to Section 29 of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations. The Secretary-General telephoned Haitian President Michel Martelly to inform him of the decision, and to reiterate the commitment of the United Nations to the elimination of cholera in Haiti.

Since the outbreak began in 2010, the United Nations and its partners have worked closely with the people and Government of Haiti to provide treatment, improve water and sanitation facilities, and strengthen prevention and early warning. In December 2012, the Secretary-General launched an initiative for the Elimination of Cholera in Haiti, which aims to strengthen Haiti’s own National Cholera Elimination Plan through significant investments and the use of an oral cholera vaccine.

The Secretary-General again expresses his profound sympathy for the terrible suffering caused by the cholera epidemic, and calls on all partners in Haiti and the international community to work together to ensure better health and a better future for the people of Haiti.