United Nations is sued over cholera epidemic in Haiti

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 15 October 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f6248
  1. Zosia Kmietowicz
  1. 1BMJ

Lawyers acting for people in Haiti who have been affected by the cholera epidemic have filed a lawsuit in New York against the United Nations.

Cholera was introduced to Haiti in October 2010 after the earthquake that devastated the country in January that year. The strain of the disease in Haiti was found to be identical to a Nepali strain that was inadvertently introduced into the water supply by UN peacekeepers.1 There have since been nearly 670 000 cases of cholera in Haiti and more than 8000 deaths.

Lawyers say they have been left with no option but to file the class action suit after the UN refused to respond to previous claims for compensation. They are demanding compensation of $100 000 (£63 000; €74 000) for every person who died from cholera and $50 000 for those who became ill.

The action is being brought by the human rights groups Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) and the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, and civil rights law firm Kurzban, Kurzban, Weinger, Tetzelli and Pratt (KKWT).

The UN has said that it has immunity against legal action.


Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f6248