U.N. Accused of Cover Up as Cholera Ravages Haiti

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Haitians wash clothes in a stream January 8, 2011 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
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Since cholera first broke out in Haiti five years ago, Doctors Without Borders estimates that it has killed as many as 30,000 people, and another 2 million have survived the disease. 

Journalists and scientists have traced the disease back to a U.N. compound that was housing peacekeepers from Nepal. The cholera outbreak was sparked after the compound began disposing of raw sewage in a nearby water way. 

The U.N. has never taken responsibility for the outbreak or the deaths, but Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has said the U.N. has "a moral responsibility" to help end the spread of the disease.

In a letter, the second highest ranking U.N. official promised the organization would fulfill "its human rights obligations" in Haiti, but U.N. efforts to fight the disease are less than 20 percent funded, meaning the disease is likely to continue to claim more lives. 

Here, The Takeaway speaks with Jonathan Katz, author of "The Big Truck that Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster." He was the first journalist to report the U.N.’s role in Haiti’s cholera outbreak.

"The U.N.'s position essentially hasn't changed for five years now," Katz says. "At the very beginning, they were extremely actively involved in a cover up — literally destroying evidence and putting out press releases disclaiming any possibility that they could be responsible, [all] based on evidence and assertions that just weren't true."

But Katz says that evidence has come to light that definitively links the U.N. to this deadly cholera outbreak. Click on the 'Listen' button above to get the full story.