U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s “sorry” last week for the organization’s role in Haiti’s deadly cholera outbreak, called a “half-apology” by some for omitting to mention the likely source of that outbreak: Nepalese UN peacekeepers. Ban Ki-moon’s statement nevertheless marks the first time the organization has publicly acknowledged its role in the spread of the cholera epidemic in Haiti that killed at least 10,000 people after the 2010 earthquake.
For six years, Haitian activists have demanded that the United Nations accept responsibility for cholera in Haiti.
Yet many seemed almost shocked on Thursday by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s apology for the U.N.’s role in the outbreak. Shocked — and pleased.
Activists who have screamed on social media, protested in the streets and filed legal claims against the U.N. over the issue welcomed the secretary-general’s new plan to address cholera in the deeply impoverished Caribbean nation: a proposal to pour $400 million into Haiti to fight cholera and compensate victims of the attack.
Ban Ki-moon’s statement also noted that “the preponderance of the evidence does lead to the conclusion that personnel associated with the [U.N.’s peacekeeping] facility were the most likely source.”
But he stopped short of apologizing for the fact that the bacteria was brought to the island by Nepalese peacekeepers and flowed out of toilets from their base in to a local water supply.