U.N. soldier spread cholera in Haiti, Bill Clinton says
Peacekeepers from Nepal were previously suspected for sparking epidemic
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, the U.N.'s special envoy to Haiti
now says that a member of the global organization's peacekeeping force
was probably responsible for bringing cholera to the Caribbean nation.
In his defense, Clinton said that the soldier was probably unaware that
he was infected.
After a hospital tour, former U.S. President Bill Clinton agreed with a statement by U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice about holding accountable those who brought cholera to Haiti.
Previous studies had suggested that peacekeepers from Nepal introduced the disease to Haiti for the first time, shortly after the January 2010 earthquake.
"First of all, the United Nations has spent a great deal of money in Haiti," Clinton told journalists. "Secondly, I don't know that the person, who introduced cholera in Haiti, the U.N. peacekeeper, or soldier from South Asia, was aware that he was carrying the virus."
"It was the proximate cause of cholera. That is, he was carrying the cholera strain. It came from his waste stream into the waterways of Haiti, into the bodies of Haitians," Clinton added.
Clinton says what "really caused" the cholera outbreak was Haiti's lack of proper sanitation.
"Unless we know that he knew or that they knew, the people that sent him, that he was carrying that virus and therefore that he could cause the amount of death and misery and sickness, I think it's better to focus on fixing it," Clinton said.
Clinton spoke to reporters after he toured a new hospital in the Central Plateau region.
The U.N. responded to Clinton's comments, saying "that Secretary-General set up a panel of experts regarding the cholera outbreak. Their conclusion was that it was not possible to be conclusive about how cholera was introduced into Haiti, that the cholera outbreak was caused by a confluence of factors, and was not the fault of, or deliberate action of a group or individual."
Brian Concannon, director of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti and one of the lawyers who has filed claims against the U.N. on behalf of cholera victims, put the blame squarely on the UN.
"The proximate cause of the epidemic are the U.N. and they are to blame," Concannon said.
The cholera outbreak prompted a Haitian law firm and its international partner to file a complaint against the U.N. last year on behalf of the victims, which is under review by the world body's legal office.
Cholera has killed more than 7,000 people and has sickened more than 526,000 others sick since it was introduced to Haiti in 2010, according to Haitian health officials.
© 2011, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
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Keywords: Haiti, Bill Clinton, United nations, Cholera
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