attempted genocide by sewage

UN admits role in 2010 cholera outbreak in Haiti
John Marion, WSWS, Aug 19 2016

The office of UN Sec-Gen Ban Ki-moon has acknowledged that the UN “peacekeeping” forces deployed to Haiti were responsible for the outbreak of a cholera epidemic there, the first appearance of the disease in Haiti in more than a century. Deputy spox for Sec-Gen Farhan Haq said in an email to the press:

Over the past year, the UN has become convinced that it needs to do much more regarding its own involvement in the initial outbreak and the suffering of those affected by cholera.

According to a report Thursday in the NYT, this statement was prompted by a confidential report to Ban by UN adviser Philip Alston, a NYU law professor serving as a special rapporteur on human rights. His report, delivered Aug 8, concluded that the cholera epidemic “would not have broken out but for the actions of the UN.” The UN Office of Internal Oversight and Services (OIOS) has quietly released an internal audit documenting that as recently as Sep 2015, the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) continued to use unsafe practices for disposing of sewage from its bases. Five years previously, in Oct 2010, cholera was introduced to Haiti for the first time in more than 100 years when sewage from a camp housing infected UN soldiers leaked into the Artibonite River. The audit’s findings include the continued dumping of sewage into Haiti’s waterways for years after the epidemic began, the inadequate testing and maintenance of wastewater treatment plants, the refusal to clean up sites abandoned by UN troops, and a lack of inspection of private contractor practices. The OIOS did not research whether these practices led to any additional illness among Haitians. On Aug 11, Fox News reported the release of the audit document by the OIOS. The document is dated Jun 30 2015, but was marked as “withheld” by the UN until this summer. No reason has been given by the UN for delay or secrecy. While it is possible that the auditors were giving MINUSTAH time to write its Management Response (which is appended to the released document), no announcement was made at the time of release.

The epidemic, which began in Oct 2010, has killed more than 9,300 Haitians and sickened nearly 800,000, according to official estimates. The UN has continued to deny its responsibility in the face of overwhelming epidemiological evidence. The actual number of deaths is likely much higher than the official estimate because Haiti’s health system did not have the capacity to track the spread of the disease at first. In addition, rural peasants and the urban poor often were unable to obtain treatment, and therefore not included in the official count. In a study conducted from Mar-May 2011, MSF sampled 16,000 people each in two cities and two rural towns and found that the excess number of deaths above the standard rate was 3,406 during the first months of the epidemic. In contrast, the official number of cholera deaths during the study period, nationwide, was 4,856. The OIOS audit documents that during site visits to MINUSTAH facilities the auditors observed: overflow of black water (defined as containing human waste) from the holding tanks of two treatment plants, seepages of grey water (contaminated by laundry, dishwashing, or bathing) released into the surrounding environment at seven sites, and septic tank manholes without covers at some sites.

MINUSTAH did not fully implement corrective procedures until Apr 2015. When relocating its troops from bases, MINUSTAH left several sites in disgusting condition, telling the auditors that it might use them again in the future and would clean them before turning them back over to the landlords. Conditions included unclean toilets, a septic tank full of black water, and holding tanks full of sewage at a wastewater treatment plant. MINUSTAH’s environmental policy required the testing of wastewater for fecal coliform bacteria, along with an 8-parameter test of water quality. As late as Jun 2014, 71% of the 32 wastewater treatment plants did not pass the 8-parameter test, which included biological oxygen demand, turbidity, and acidity. At seven sites visited by the audit committee, inadequately treated wastewater was being released into public canals. Wastewater downstream from six of the treatment plants still contained fecal coliform, which although not a serious health risk in itself does indicate the shoddiness of MINUSTAH’s practices. As of Jun 30 2015, the resulting audit recommendation was left open until MINUSTAH provided evidence that it was actually implementing its standard operating procedures.

Corrective action on one of the most serious issues was not fully implemented until Sep 2015. The auditors reviewed the practice of an unnamed waste disposal vendor with whom MINUSTAH contracted. The results were damning: spillage from “inappropriate” trucks, non-compliance with health and safety standards, and disposal of garbage at unauthorized dumping sites. At least seven of these sites were “without protections from intrusion” and one was “very close to a water body used by the local population.” MINUSTAH continued using this contractor until Jun 30 2014 and then suspended them for a year. The contract did not include a no-notice inspection clause, and MINUSTAH told the auditors that inadequate staffing in its Engineering Division had kept it from carrying out inspections. The OIOS audit’s release follows an Apr 2016 article in the Guardian about a leaked report, commissioned by the UN in Nov 2010, which found that one in 10 UN bases were dumping black water, defined as water containing human waste, “directly into local environment.” The researchers of this report, led by UN official Melva Crouch, estimated that the cost of preventing the cholera outbreak through proper sewage treatment in the fall of 2010 would have been only $3.15m. MINUSTAH’s budget for occupying Haiti with thousands of soldiers and police was more than 100 times that amount in its most recent fiscal year.

Cholera was reintroduced to Haiti in Oct 2010 by UN soldiers from Nepal when sewage from their base leaked into the Artibonite River by way of its Meye Tributary. Less than a year after the epidemic began, the American Society for Microbiology journal mBio published a genetic analysis documenting that the Haitian and Nepalese strains were identical. One of the UN’s own experts commented that the study was “irrefutable molecular evidence” that MINUSTAH soldiers were responsible for the outbreak. Nonetheless, the UN and its Sec-Gen Ban Ki-moon have refused to acknowledge MINUSTAH’s guilt or offer compensation to the victims. In an Oct 2015 letter to Ban, a UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Haiti and four Special Rapporteurs wrote that the refusal to hear victims’ claims “undermines the reputation of the UN, calls into question the ethical framework within which its peace-keeping forces operate, and challenges the credibility of the Organization as an entity that respects human rights.” After questioning the UN’s legal basis for refusing to hear victims’ claims, the letter’s five signatories complained that “various commentators” are worried that a successful cholera law suit would “open the floodgates to claims against the UN in other situations,” threatening both its finances and its ability to maintain a pretence of “peacekeeping.” In reality, MINUSTAH has been used to subjugate the Haitian population ever since its establishment after the 2004 Pindo coup d’etat against Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Behind the word “peacekeeping,” the imperialist powers are keeping the UN force in place until they are satisfied that the Haitian National Police and recently reformed military will be capable of taking over this job. Similarly, the OIOS auditors worried in their report about “reputational risks” and the “risk of MINUSTAH being held accountable for water contamination coming from public canals that may have been contaminated from outside sources and for which MINUSTAH was not responsible.”

One Comment

  1. Posted August 19, 2016 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    November 1, 2010
    Cholera in Haiti Matches Strains Seen in South Asia, U.S. Says
    By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS , Nov. 1, 2010 | Source – New York Times
    PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — A cholera outbreak that has killed more than 300 people in Haiti matches strains commonly found in South Asia, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday.

    Researchers identified the strain by analyzing DNA patterns that can be compared with those from other regions of the world, according to Dr. Christopher Braden, a C.D.C. epidemiologist.

    The finding does not identify the source, nor does it explain how cholera — a disease never confirmed to have existed in Haiti — suddenly erupted in the vulnerable country’s rural center. But it eliminates some possibilities, including any connection to a 1990s South American outbreak.

    The finding also intensifies the scrutiny of a United Nations base built on a tributary to the Artibonite River. Cholera has been detected in the waterway, and most of the cases have been among people who live downriver and drank from the Artibonite.

    Speculation among Haitians has increasingly focused on the base and troops there from Nepal, where cholera is endemic and which saw outbreaks this summer before the current contingent of troops arrived in Haiti. Most people infected by the microbe never develop symptoms but can still pass on the disease.

    On Friday, hundreds of demonstrators waving tree branches and carrying anti-United Nations banners walked from the central plateau city of Mirebalais several miles to the gates of the base. “Like it or not, they must go,”€ they chanted.

    The United Nations has defended its sanitation practices and denied that the base could be a source of the infection. A spokesman said the agency was looking into the matter on Monday following the C.D.C.’s announcement.

    In the coming weeks, additional laboratory testing, including whole genome DNA sequencing, will be conducted, but investigating officials note that such testing may never fully explain how cholera was introduced into Haiti.

    “Our primary focus here is to save lives and control the spread of disease,”€ said Dr. Jordan Tappero, the epidemiologist who is leading the C.D.C.’s cholera response team in the country. “We realize that it’s also important to understand how infectious agents move to new countries. However, we may never know the actual origin of this cholera strain.”€

    **************

    Source: Unpublished Mission Report by Renaud Piarroux, November 7-27, 2010 (in French).

    Translation from French to English by R. R. Frerichs with assistance of iGoogle, Jan. 1, 2011; translation correction, Jan. 24, 2011.

    god damn foreigners!

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