Just throwing this out there: I am pretty pissed about the cholera epidemic in Haiti.

image from Reuters.

Almost 8000 people have died since it started in October of 2010.  A crazy, huge number. The biggest of any cholera epidemic in recent history.

The craziest thing is that it was brought here by an organization with an internationally recognized mandate to protect Haitians.  

My complaints have nothing to do with the fact that the strain of cholera was Nepalese.  It’s about how this has been portrayed in the media by some – as though there was just one poor innocent Nepalese soldier that inadvertently caused the whole epidemic – poor guy, he came here to help.  Let’s not blame him.

The reality is that it is highly unlikely that a one infected person could cause such an explosion of cases of cholera.  The much more likely scenario, all but confirmed by the CDC, is that at the Nepalese base, the UN was dumping its untreated fecal matter into a river, which acted as a water source for the people leaving nearby.

This is criminal negligence of massive proportions.

Think of the repercussions if this had happened in the US. BP was fined 4.5 billion USD for the oil spill, and they face civil trials on top of that.  That kind of money would be incredibly useful for Haiti, the poorest nation in the western hemisphere.  But who's kidding who? It would be really useful for any country, particularly in a crisis like this.

Whereas it was not there before, Cholera is now here to stay in Haiti.  The prevention mechanisms in places are abysmally weak.  The treatment mechanisms just as bad.  You can read my previous post to find out more about why. 

The largest NGO in the world needs to be held accountable to the Haitian people, and to its donors and member states.  It needs to know that it cannot get away with this kind of negligence, not in a developing country, not ever.  By not holding the UN accountable, we are sending a clear message to the developing world that the standard code of conduct that applies to us does not apply to them.  That we punish those who run us (people of wealthy nations) afoul, but we ignore it when it happens to the poor.

*** update: please read this FP article about the UN, cholera and Haiti. Unbelievable.

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