UN’s Own Independent Experts Now Say MINUSTAH Troops “Most Likely” Caused Cholera Epidemic

by the Center for Economic and
Policy Research (CEPR)
The number of experts casting
doubt on the likelihood of the U.N. having been the source of Haiti’s deadly
cholera epidemic is getting increasingly smaller. In what Foreign Policy’s Turtle Bay blogger Colum Lynch calls a
“dramatic retreat,” a panel of independent U.N. experts who earlier
had reported that the outbreak’s cause “was not the fault” of any
“group or individual” and cited environmental factors – most notably
Haiti’s lack of adequate sanitation – as being partly at fault, have now
determined that U.N. troops from Nepal “most likely” were the cause.

goes on to write that “the four scientists — Alejandro Cravioto, Daniele
Lantagne, G. Balakrish Nair, Claudio F. Lanata — who wrote the original report
say that new evidence that has come to light in the past two years. While not
conclusive, that evidence has strengthened the case against the United Nations.
The experts — who no longer work for the United Nations — also defended their
initial findings, saying the ‘majority of evidence’ at the time was
‘circumstantial.’ They added, that the “current strain Nepal strain of cholera
was not available for molecular analysis” at the time. The team’s new
report tracks the arrival in October 2010 of a contingent of Nepalese
peacekeepers from Kathmandu to a UN encampment in the Haitian village of
Mirebalais, which sits on the banks of the Artibonite River.”
writes that the “report stated that the peacekeepers had constructed a
series a ‘haphazard’ system of pipes from the U.N. camps showers and toilets to
the six fiberglass tanks. The ‘black water waste,’ which included human feces, was
then transferred to an open, unfenced, septic pit, where children and animals
frequently roamed. The system provided ‘significant potential’ for
in fact the report does not say the UN troops themselves “constructed
” the “haphazard” pipe system themselves; the UN is supposed to
have hired a contractor, Sanco Enterprises SA, to facilitate the removal of
human waste from the base. The UN does of course bear blame for the
contractor’s negligence, however.
reports: “The panel ruled out the possibility that the cholera strain had
originated in the region, saying the lethal strain was ‘very similar but not
identical to the South Asian strain of Vibrio Cholerae.’… ‘The exact source
of introduction of cholera into Haiti will never be known with scientific
certainty, as it is not possible to travel back in time to conduct the
necessary investigations,’ the panel’s members wrote in its new report..
‘However, the preponderance of the evidence and the weight of the
circumstantial evidence does lead to the conclusion that personnel associated
with the Mirebalais MINUSTAH [The U.N. Mission in Haiti] facility were the most
likely source of introduction of cholera into Haiti.’”
notes that “The latest findings will increase pressure on the United
Nations to acknowledge responsibility for introducing cholera into the
country.” As we have recently described, the UN has taken a defensive
posture both toward its own responsibility for the epidemic and for ensuring
funding for its own cholera eradication plan (prepared with the Haitian and
Dominican governments and NGOs).

A Haitian cholera victim. UN-dispatched experts now admit that their
sponsor’s troops must have started the epidemic.