As another example, Lee Katz, CDC's chief bioinformatician for the labs that study diseases like cholera (Who, full disclosure, used to work with my lab on Vibrio stuff): http://mbio.asm.org/content/4/4/e00398-13.short
There have been articles by other groups directly addressing the introduction of cholera by aid workers. The CDC also talks about this issue directly during conferences and presentations as an event that we need to learn from.
Now I just need somewhere else to direct my armchair rage...
"Meille village hosted a MINUSTAH camp, which was set up just above a stream flowing into the Artibonite River. Newly incoming Nepalese soldiers arrived there on October 9, 12, and 16. The Haitian epidemiologists observed sanitary deficiencies, including a pipe discharging sewage from the camp into the river. Villagers used water from this stream for cooking and drinking.
On October 21, the epidemic was also investigated in several wards of Mirebalais. Inhabitants of Mirebalais drew water from the rivers because the water supply network was being repaired. Notably, prisoners drank water from the same river, downstream from Meille. No other cause was found for the 34 cases and 4 deaths reported in the prison.
On October 31, it was observed that sanitary deficiencies in the camp had been corrected. At the same time, daily incidence of cholera tended to decrease. Afterwards, incidence rose again to reach a second peak on November 10 "
I think the article is probably technically correct in terms of the highest levels of the CDC and UN being sensitive and slow-rolling the news...but I wouldn't say it's as pervasive a cover-up as the article implies.
>MINUSTAH officials issued a press statement denying the possibility that the base could have caused the epidemic, citing stringent sanitation standards. The next day, October 27, reporter Jonathan M. Katz of the Associated Press visited the base and found gross inconsistencies between the statement and the base's actual conditions.
Later, they took groundwater samples ("despite UN assertions that it was not concerned about a possible link between its soldiers and the disease") and announced they tested negative. Lying about test results definitely sounds like something you'd do during a cover-up, except apparently the tests weren't even done right:
>However, an AP investigation showed that the tests were improperly done at a laboratory in the Dominican Republic with no experience of testing for cholera.
I poked around the article that quote cites, which claims the tests were conducted at a regular hospital (with a surprisingly spiffy website: ) by an obesity specialist. Apparently you'd want those tests run somewhere more specialized because cholera is tricky and you get false negatives all the time. I'm not sure how available those facilities are, maybe there legitimately wasn't a better option, or maybe there was and somebody is just really bad at their job. If there was a deliberate, coordinated deception involved, I'd hope the conspirators would at least find a medical facility that would give their story more credibility.
Attributions to malice or incompetence aside, it's definitely clear that the relief mission and friends have not handled this event very well. There were some amounts of stupefying incompetence and bald corruption, and they should be held accountable regardless of what the proportions were. This extends beyond the current cholera situation, we could just as easily be talking about something like Cité Soleil, a large shantytown outside Port-au-Prince with a history of extreme poverty and armed conflict. That said, the other side of the story is that Haiti is an incredibly troubled country with a history of natural disasters, unstable government, and terrible epidemics. Any country would struggle with one of those, but Haiti wrestles with all of them at once. An earthquake wipes out infrastructure, which allows disease to spread unchecked, which hamstrings the economy, and so on. The relief mission is there because Haiti sorely needs it, even if it sucks and Haitians deserve a better one.
Funny seeing the London map. My flat's on that. Thankfully we have less cholera these days. I remember being struck in Nepal about 20 years ago by seeing some guy crapping directly on the river bed of the main river in Kathmandu which was probably being used for water by villages downstream. Again some of this stuff is not rocket science.
EDIT: Recent example - http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/20/opinion/sunday/i-love-the-...
I'm not sure it's comparable, flu only kills 4x more people as cholera and honestly I'd personally like it if I could sue people for getting me sick by going out to public places when they know they are sick. (A friend of mine just gloated on twitter that he probably got 100 people sick by attending a meetup with the flu.)
That said, since most people don't seem to agree with me and just take it as normal that sicknesses get passed on with a ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ type attitude I guess I'm unsure how to hold the UN any more responsible.
You definitely can do this. They'd need to have something more serious than the flu. Forcible quarantine for severe communicable diseases is a feature of US law.
> flu only kills 4x more people as cholera
How many people have the flu, vs how many having cholera?
And he could definitely sue. USA!
Reminds me of modern universities where 75-90% of the expense is going to administrators instead of the core service (education). Which is a big reason why tuition keeps rising.
Haiti is still in a poor state following the 2010 earthquake. Many communities do not have access to a reliable water supply. I have no idea about the costs, but it would no at all shock me to find it would cost $2 billion (or more) to get the entire population access to reliable water supplies that could be treated appropriately.
Not sure why the water access isn't getting more press given its direct relation to disease.
* Not much is known about the prevalence of HIV among peacekeepers, because the UN rejects mandatory testing.
* In 2000, a US Intelligence Council Report estimated an HIV prevalence rate of between 10 and 20% among the armed forces of the Ivory Coast and Nigeria, and an even higher prevalence of 40–60% among the militaries of the war-affected countries of Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
* Surveys of Dutch personnel suggest that 45% routinely had unprotected sex with sex workers in Cambodia during a tour there.
I assumed it was more about the UN's fear of major dropoff in volunteer rates from countries/orgs that would be embarrassed about their infection rates. After all, the UN only exists because of the participation of all the member countries. They are right to fear hurting participation rates...
I'm not defending the spread of HIV, just noting that it's a nuanced challenge.
I was joking once that people in the hellholes of this world have enough problems even without our help.
Now I am not sure it is a joke.
I like to be gracious but I can't imagine how the UN fucked this up
UN troops are simply troops rented by the UN from member countries. They are no less or better trained nor less corrupt than their fellow soldiers back home who are not wearing blue helmets.
Renting troops to the UN is a racket that nets a lot of money. Countries have even been known to cheat the UN by pretending they have more troops or equipment deployed than is actually the case so they earn more.
Think of them as Pakistan, French, Australian or Nigerian etc. troops wearing blue helmets, they are nothing more than that.
At least in my country (Finland), the troops who volunteer to UN duty get specific training for it.
The training is not very long, but on the other hand, there is a selection process that means that by no means everyone theoretically eligible gets to go, so we can well argue that the troops in blue helmets are better trained (and much better paid) than the average conscript, and the process to select them also impacts who gets to go.
I try to get them to tell any time I speak to any of thise veterans and what I hear is scary.
Example: one Danish officer had to go so far as to tell UN soldiers from another country that they would be shot if he took them for buying kids again.
Another story: painting endangered turtles UN blue and shoot at them just for fun. Can't say for sure who did but I have a hunch this one was Scandinavians.
I appreciate the desire to make the UN a truly global effort, but maybe there should be some filter where peacekeepers only help at home or in countries worse off. Otherwise, we're not only raising the risk of incidents like this and other peacekeeper scandals, but also taking soldiers away from vulnerable populations at home that already need their help.
PK is economically more attractive for a poor country with an oversized army than a rich country with a relatively small army.
Sure, but why would the rest of the world be interested in peacekeepers from incompetent countries who are being fobbed off on the UN to reduce military bills at home? Was Haiti better off after receiving these guys?
On the other hand, deploying the nepalese soldiers equips them with practical experience (some of which might well have come in handy after the 2015 quake), and I assume they are fairly well paid on a UN mission too. Injecting some cash into Nepal is not a bad thing.
>Peacekeeping soldiers are paid by their own Governments according to their own national rank and salary scale. Countries volunteering uniformed personnel to peacekeeping operations are reimbursed by the UN at a standard rate, approved by the General Assembly, of a little over US$1,332 per soldier per month.
I would suspect this is fairly lucrative.
It was also in the Clinton emails that were released (Chelsea Clinton was there and writing to her parents)
"Speaking of censuses, the UN also needs a census of itself and its materials
in country - including of the peacekeeper bases outside Port Au Prince.
For example, we drove by 2 bases on the way to Cange and there were
collectively, I would estimate, more than a hundred trucks and buses just
sitting between the two, as well as at least 800 Napali soldiers (according to
locals) laying effectively fallow - and I don't think anyone expects an
outbreak of violence on the Central Plateau in the near future so even if they
and their colleagues are deployed under UN Charter Chapter 6, surely
preserving the peace could be interpreted to work with the settlements? At
the least, their hardware could be used more effectively in Port Au Prince."
Take their travel expenses and peacekeeping salaries and repurpose those as a practical domestic training program or foreign aid.
I only propose this as an alternative to the status quo, which apparently features useful practical lessons about sanitation, but only through trial and error in someone else's backyard.
There could also be some benefit for these soldiers. It must be quite the learning experience for a Nepalese soldier to work in Haiti. I know there have been numerous problems with such deployments, but there's an upside to it even if it's hard to measure.
> a lot of them are subsistence farmers
These statements directly contradict each other.
Here are years of too much detail:
The group’s failures went beyond just infrastructure.
When a cholera epidemic raged through Haiti nine months after the quake, the biggest part of the Red Cross’ response — a plan to distribute soap and oral rehydration salts — was crippled by "internal issues that go unaddressed," wrote the director of the Haiti program in her May 2011 memo.
Throughout that year, cholera was a steady killer. By September 2011, when the death toll had surpassed 6,000, the project was still listed as “very behind schedule” according to another internal document.
The Red Cross said in a statement that its cholera response, including a vaccination campaign, has continued for years and helped millions of Haitians.
But while other groups also struggled early responding to cholera, some performed well.
“None of these people had to die. That’s what upsets me," said Paul Christian Namphy, a Haitian water and sanitation official who helped lead the effort to fight cholera. He says early failures by the Red Cross and other NGOs had a devastating impact. “These numbers should have been zero."
How the Red Cross Raised Half a Billion Dollars for Haiti and Built Six Homes
I've seen hundreds of marketing types and executives prefer to chase their greed over recognizing the importance of accountability. Now, I'm witnessing altruistic types chase unfalsifiable humanist ideologies over recognizing the importance of accountability.
I can't tell if you assume the downtrodden are so stupid they'll accept any charlatan who spouts beautiful intentions no matter the actual cost or that the noble hearts are so special that they deserve freedom from consequence indefinitely. Without accountability, both conclusions are the foundation of atrocity.
I don't recommend googling it, because some of it is so heinous beyond your wildest imagination.
Yeah, they're a lot like Blackwater that way.
Snark aside, I find it deeply fascinating just how broad a benefit of the doubt UN peacekeepers get, compared to anything that has to do with the US military, or, heaven forbid it, Blackwater. Especially considering that most of what we hear about those organisations is filtered through the very same "controversy-obsessed" media.
Yes, it's really hard to imagine why UN peacekeepers have a bigger benefit of the doubt than a foreigner invading troop. Very hard. \s
Regardless of origination locale, can we (HN) try to be more universal with our topics?