An American activist group claims Nepali soldiers seconded to the UN were responsible for Haiti’s ongoing Cholera epidemic which has claimed over 9,000 lives since the outbreak hit the Caribbean nation in 2010. The death toll continues to rise even today as the country braces for another rainy season.
“1647 days ago, the U.N. introduced cholera into Haiti,” claims the Boston-based Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) indicating the very first case of the epidemic was confirmed in 2010, shortly after the arrival of the Nepali troops. The group is currently engaged in a legal battle against the UN to secure compensation for the Cholera victims of Haiti.
Nepali soldiers arrived in Port-au-Prince in October 2010 in order to help Haiti rebuild following the 7.0 magnitude earthquake which devastated the country in January that year. According to pulitzercenter.org, “They settled into a camp above Haiti’s biggest river, the Artibonite. Locals noticed untreated sewage from the camp flowing into a stream that emptied into the river.’
Activists believe it was that contaminated water, which locals used in their day to day activities including for drinking, that reintroduced Cholera into Haiti. The disease had not been noticed in Haiti in almost 100 years before the Nepali green helmets were sent there. According to IJDH figures, the epidemic has so far affected nearly 750,000 Haitians.
In a 2010 report, French physician Dr. Renaud Piarroux had claimed that it was Nepali soldiers who were responsible for importing Cholera into the country. The then spokesperson for Nepal Army, Ramindra Chhetti, had strongly refuted the French government’s suggestion on the basis that Nepali soldiers went through rigorous medical checks before leaving for the UN mission in Haiti.
He alleged Cholera spread through the sewage from the camps where the Nepali soldiers were stationed as it drained into the same river from which the residents of the town of Mirebalais drew their drinking water. Mirebalais apparently was where the epidemic was first detected.
In January 2015, IJDH’s lawsuit against the UN was dismissed by NY Federal Court citing UN’s immunity. On 12 February 2015, it filed a ‘notice of appeal to begin the appeals process’ which is due to be heard on 27 May.
It is ironic that 14,000 kilometres from Haiti, the Bagmati River in Kathmandu faces a similar onslaught of human waste.
It is yet to be legally confirmed whether or not the soldiers from Nepalese Army were responsible for the alleged dumping of sewage into the Artibonite River but the world knows for a fact that the residents of the historic city of Kathmandu are undoubtedly the sole culprits for the death of Bagmati, a river Hindus consider holy.