Almost 650,000 Haitians have contracted cholera since a giant earthquake struck the island in 2010. This is kind of a weird thing to have happened, since cholera is caused by a bacterium called Vibrio cholerae and not by being shaken around a lot and watching your house fall down.
Cholera wasn’t a widespread problem in Haiti before October 2010, so where did it come from? Who gave Haiti a case of the runs so bad that THEY DIE? Well, according to a study and another study and a third study and Bill Clinton, it was the United Nations.
But don’t worry! The United Nations has decided the United Nations has diplomatic immunity, according to a policy written by the United Nations. Phew.
How did it happen? How did we not know about this? Well, turns out we did, and ABC News explained it to us more than a year ago:
In January, ABC News reported on compelling scientific evidence suggesting a United Nations peacekeeper from Nepal carried the virulent strain of cholera to a remote village in October 2010, and dumping of raw sewage from the UN encampment sent the disease into a key water supply for Haitians. In addition to killing 7,000 people, more than 500,000 Haitians have been infected in Haiti.
So yeah, the suit against the U.N. says that they should probably be compensating the families of the people killed by shitting diseases into their rivers.
Let’s go to the scientists — New England Journal of Medicine, you’re up:
When we mapped raw sequencing reads to the canonical N16961 reference, we identified copy-number variation — typically in hyper-recombinant genomic regions — affecting ribosomal RNAs, the V. cholerae superintegron, the SXT-integrative and conjugative element, and the seventh-pandemic genomic islands (VSP-1 and VSP-2).18 The five isolates showed a high degree of similarity, as well as notable structural variation. The structures of the H1 and H2 genomes were identical. The sequence from sample N5 matched the canonical reference strain from which it was purportedly cultured… Collectively, our data strongly suggest that the Haitian epidemic began with introduction of a V. cholerae strain into Haiti by human activity from a distant geographic source.
TL;DR: The United Nations did it, because science.
How about you, American Academy of Microbiology?
One cluster contained three Nepalese isolates and three Haitian isolates that were almost identical, with only 1- or 2-bp differences. Results in this study are consistent with Nepal as the origin of the Haitian outbreak.
The United Nations did it, because science, again.
Let’s check one more study, just to be sure. This one found that sanitation at the suspected U.N. camp was “not sufficient to prevent fecal contamination,” and, though it “could not have been the source of such an outbreak without simultaneous water and sanitation and health care system deficiencies,” it was definitely the U.N. camp contaminating that river that kicked the whole thing off.
Who commissioned this study? The United Nations.
So what happened now? The U.N. released a statement that “the claims are not receivable pursuant to Section 29 of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations.”
We wanted to look up this magical document, but the version on the U.N. website misspells “privileges” in the URL and uses Comic Sans. Plus, it doesn’t really say anything about “It’s cool to wipe our cholera all over the place,” so who knows what they’re talking about.
But it doesn’t matter, because they have decided they are not going to pony up, and will instead talk about how committed they are to getting the cholera back out of Haiti. So committed, in fact, that they are willing to pay for cholera treatment and prevention programs. Ok, maybe just part of the programs. Ok, it’s one percent.