U.N. Role Is Found in Haiti Cholera
UNITED NATIONS—Fecal matter from United Nations peacekeepers that was improperly disposed of by a firm contracted by the U.N., along with a poor sanitation system for drinking water, was the cause of the cholera outbreak in Haiti last year that killed more than 4,500 people, a report by a U.N.-appointed panel said on Wednesday.
Another 300,000 people were made ill in an outbreak that is still sickening people and occurred because of a confluence of events, the report by the four-person panel of American, Indian and Bangladeshi experts.
The panel said that the cholera bacteria originated outside Haiti, which suffered its first cholera case in a century last October, and matched strains from Nepal in 2009.
The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti, known as Minustah, has a camp in Mirebalais near the Meye River, a tributary of the Artibonite River, where Nepalese blue helmets are stationed.
“The sanitation conditions at the Mirebalais Minustah camp were not sufficient to prevent contamination of the Meye Tributary System with human fecal waste,” the report said.
U.N. officials previously dismissed as speculation that the outbreak originated at the camp. To get to the bottom of the allegations, U.N. Secretary General Bank Ki-moon appointed the panel at the end of last year.
The report plays down as a “hypothesis that soldiers deployed from a cholera-endemic country to the Mirebalais Minustah camp were the source of the cholera” which it said was “a commonly held belief in Haiti.”
But the report then describes in detail how the outbreak occurred because of contamination of the Artibonite River from the peacekeeping camp.