U.N. Rejects Haiti’s Compensation Claim For Cholera Victims

  @MayaErgas on February 22 2013 4:27 PM
Haitian Child With Cholera
A girl receives treatment for cholera at a cholera treatment center run by humanitarian organization Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Doctors Without Borders, in Port-au-Prince Aug. 31, 2012. Reuters/Swoan Parker

The United Nations on Thursday rejected a compensation claim from Haiti for its cholera victims, who currently number in the 600,000-range, including around 8,000 deaths.

In a statement to reporters, Martin Nesirky, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s spokesman, said that the claim was “not receivable” under terms of a 1946 convention, which laid out the U.N.'s immunity for its actions.

The epidemic, which is the worst in modern history, broke out after the January 2010 earthquake in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. It is thought that the U.N. itself unwittingly introduced the disease through leaking sewage pipes in one of its buildings, the BBC said.

The U.N. has refused to accept responsibility, saying that the source of the outbreak is unidentifiable.

Lawyers for some of the victims said that the claim would have cost the U.N. more than $1 billion in damages, Al-Jazeera reported.

The U.N. also said that it would continue its rebuilding efforts in Haiti. "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," Nesirky said.

In December 2012, Ban announced the U.N. would be funding a $2.27 billion initiative to help eliminate cholera in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, the AP reported.

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