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U.N. cholera: Own up, pay up

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Sunday, July 14, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

Whether one study or 10 tie United Nations' peacekeepers to a cholera epidemic that has claimed more than 8,000 lives in Haiti, Turtle Bay will admit no responsibility and will pay no compensation. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told Congress as much amid the latest findings into the cholera outbreak in a country that had no reported cases prior to the Nepalese peacekeepers' 2010 arrival.

A study in the journal of the American Society for Microbiology considered more than 100 samples from cholera outbreaks in 16 countries, the Los Angeles Times reports. The Haiti and Nepal samples bore striking similarities.

Not that any of this is news. At the onset of the cholera epidemic, the very first report from a French epidemiologist pointed to abysmally poor sanitary conditions at the peacekeepers' camp, which was suspected of contaminating local water supplies.

Earlier this year, when the U.N. refused to pay compensation to 5,000 cholera victims and their families, members of Congress wrote to Mr. Ban, urging the U.N. to take the lead in funding the Hispaniola Initiative, which would provide an estimated $2.2 billion to Haiti over the next 10 years to improve access to clean water.

Mr. Ban's response to Congress: tough noogies. Supposedly the U.N. has provided $140 million — how much of that is in U.S. funding? — to make the Haiti cholera problem go away.

For once, Congress should reciprocate by cutting off U.S. funding and sending Ban with his tin cup to collect from other nations.

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