UN has moral responsibility to end Haiti cholera outbreak, Ban says
The United Nations has a "moral responsibility" to help impoverished Haiti end a devastating cholera outbreak some blame on peacekeepers, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says.
Ban spoke to The Miami Herald ahead of a visit to the Caribbean nation due to begin yesterday during which he was set to visit families affected by cholera. The United Nations has so far denied any responsibility over the outbreak that has killed more than 8,000 people and infected more than 700,000.
There had been no cholera in Haiti for at least 150 years until it was allegedly introduced by Nepalese UN peacekeepers sent there in the wake of the devastating January 2010 earthquake.
The source of the cholera epidemic was traced to a river that runs next to a UN camp in the central town of Mirebalais, where Nepalese troops had been based. The strain of cholera is the same as one endemic in Nepal.
"Regardless of what the legal implication may be, as the secretary-general of the United Nations and as a person, I feel very sad," Ban told the newspaper.
"I believe that the international community, including the United Nations, has a moral responsibility to help the Haitian people stem the further spread of this cholera epidemic."
The UN has failed to offer an apology or compensation for the outbreak, even as three lawsuits have been filed in US courts.