UN Cholera Response: Disdainful, Disingenuous and Deceitful
Has the UN’s intestinal worm turned? On an inspection of the solar energy capacity of the new teaching hospital in Mirebalais on March 7, Bill Clinton, UN Special Envoy to Haiti, stated as fact what everyone except the United Nations itself has accepted for more than a year. UN troops – specifically a Nepalese Bat- talion based just a couple of miles away – were responsible for intro- ducing cholera to Haiti in October 2010, causing what is now the world’s most potent current epidemic.
The admission came in reply to a challenge from one of Haiti’s most active investigative journalists, Ansel Hertz. Just days before, in re- porting an unprecedented trip to Haiti by the UN Security Council, Washington’s Ambassador to the
UN, Susan Rice, had referred to both the cholera epidemic and sex- ual abuse by UN troops in Haiti in the same sentence.
Rice called on the United Nations to “redouble its efforts to prevent any further incidents of this kind and to ensure that those responsi- ble are held accountable.” The listing of the two charges on the same rap sheet implied the UN was responsible for cholera – without actually stating it. It was an ambi- guity that might have been inten- tional given the growing frustration with the UN in Haiti.
Hertz asked Clinton if he agreed that those who introduced cholera to Haiti should be held responsible, citing the “multiple scientific stud- ies” that pointed to the UN. Clin- ton’s answer was actually “no”, but in saying so, he stated what Rice had not, whilst making all the classic excuses about intention (none) and context (Haiti’s terrible water and sanitation provision).