BOSTON: A U.S-based human rights group has given the United Nations 60 days to reach a compensation deal or face a lawsuit from victims of Haiti’s cholera epidemic.
The UN has already indicated that it is immune from legal action over the epidemic, which has afflicted half a million people in Haiti.
However, the Boston-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti said it is ready to open legal proceedings in New York, with claims totalling billions of dollars unless the UN adhered to the deadline.
The group has blamed UN peacekeepers for introducing the disease – which has killed more than 8,000 people and left hundreds sick – into Haiti.
The human rights group also wants the UN to apologize to Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the hemisphere, for introducing the disease and to launch a major effort to improve sanitation.
The Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti said it was representing the victims and the families of those who died when the epidemic erupted in October, 2010. It said it is seeking US$100,000 for the family of each victim who died and US$50,000 for each survivor.
Independent studies suggest the strain of cholera was the same as one endemic in Nepal and was inadvertently brought to Haiti by Nepalese UN peacekeepers.