The strain of cholera that has killed over 7,000 people in Haiti since 2010 was introduced to the country by a UN soldier, said former U.S. president Bill Clinton today from the impoverished Caribbean nation, according to the Associated Press.
"I don't know that the person who introduced cholera in Haiti, the UN peacekeeper, or soldier from South Asia, was aware that he was carrying the virus," Clinton said after touring a new hospital in Haiti. "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."
Cholera has had a devastating impact on Haiti, already struggling after an earthquake in early 2010 destroyed much of the country's infrastructure. Over 526,000 Haitians have been directly affected by the disease, which did not exist in Haiti at the time of the 2010 quake and the international response that followed it. (It had not been seen in Hait for almost a century.) Nepali peacekeeping troops deployed to the country under the banner of the United Nations have long been suspected of having introduced the illness.
A panel appointed by the UN said the outbreak was the result of bad sanitation in Haiti, a sentiment also echoed by Clinton in his remarks today.
A Haitian law firm has filed a legal complaint against the UN over the cholera outbreak, which is still under review.
Read more from The Associated Press.
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