UN Concedes Role in Haiti Cholera Crisis

Six years after a cholera epidemic killed thousands in earthquake-stricken Haiti, the United Nations has admitted that it played a role in the initial outbreak and called for a “significant new set of actions” to tackle the crisis. An email this week from Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for the secretary general, said that “over the past year, the UN has become convinced that it needs to do much more regarding its own involvement in the initial outbreak and the suffering of those affected by cholera,” The New York Times reported. The statement comes as a reaction to a 19-page report by a UN adviser on Aug. 8 that argued the disease “would not have broken out but for the actions of the United Nations.” The report claims that UN personnel from Nepal were the most likely source of the outbreak in late 2010, and the UN’s refusal to acknowledge this or offer reparations is “is morally unconscionable, legally indefensible, and politically self-defeating.” UN officials have until the end of this week to respond to the claims in the report, but the secretary general’s statement seems to indicate a turnaround after five years of denying any involvement. The outbreak has claimed the lives of at least 10,000 Haitians and affected hundreds of thousands of others.