January 13, 2012
CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot continued to push for UN accountability in Haiti over the past week, for UN responsibility in introducing a cholera epidemic that has killed thousands, and for the sexual assaults that UN troops have perpetrated against Haitians.
A new ABC News article cites scientists as saying that there is “no doubt” that troops with the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) are responsible for bringing cholera to Haiti:
“The scientific debate on the origin of cholera in Haiti existed, but it has been resolved by the accumulation of evidence that unfortunately leave no doubt about the implication of the Nepalese contingent of the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti,” French epidemiologist Renaud Piarroux told ABC News’s Brian Ross Investigative Unit.
But the UN continues to deny the facts, and Mark Weisbrot is quoted as saying, “It’s outrageous for the UN to try to deny responsibility for bringing cholera to Haiti.” Weisbrot has repeatedly pushed for the UN to own up to its responsibility in causing the epidemic, and provide compensation to victims, such as in this Guardian column and this press release.
This important ABC News report follows a video segment and accompanying article late last week on the most recent developments in the case of several Uruguayan MINUSTAH troops accused of sexually assaulting an 18-year-old Haitian man. There was a widely publicized scandal after video footage of the assault, recorded on a cell phone by one of the assailants, was leaked to reporters. Uruguayan authorities released the soldiers, saying that prosecution of the case could not proceed as the victim could not be located in Haiti. But a follow up article by the Associated Press quoted the assault victim as saying, “They know where to find me… If they take me, I will go.”
The video report documents the anti-MINUSTAH protests that erupted following the scandal at the end of summer, noting “many residents have come to believe the UN troops are doing more harm than good.” Challenging the UN’s claims of “zero tolerance” for such abuses, Weisbrot notes that after Sri Lankan troops were expelled for sexual misconduct, “They took them out of the country, but as far as we can tell, they were never prosecuted.”
Weisbrot also criticized the slow pace of recovery in post-quake Haiti, which has led to half a million earthquake survivors living in deplorable conditions in tent communities two-years-later, and the questionable spending priorities of large NGOs and the international community, in a discussion on Aljazeera’s Inside Story, Thursday.