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United Nations

Haiti cholera victims threaten to sue United Nations

A human rights group representing victims of Haiti's cholera epidemic has given the UN 60 days to reach a compensation deal or face a legal lawsuit. UN peacekeepers are widely blamed for introducing the disease.

The Boston-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti said it was ready to open legal proceedings in New York with claims totaling billions of dollars unless the United Nations adhered to the deadline.

It requested that the UN agrees to compensate the victims, apologizes to the Caribbean nation for introducing the disease and launches a major effort to improve sanitation.

The rights group said it was representing the some 8,000 victims and the families of more than 8,100 people who died when the epidemic erupted in October 2010. It said it was seeking $100,000 (75,990 euros) for the family of each victim who died and $50,000 for each survivor.

In a letter in February the United Nations said it was legally immune from legal action over the epidemic that afflicted some half a million people.

Independent studies suggest strain of cholera was the same as one endemic in Nepal and was inadvertently brought to Haiti by Nepalese UN peacekeepers.

The epidemic hit Haiti as it struggled to cope with the effects of an earthquake in January 2010 which left some 250,000 people dead.

ccp/ipj (Reuters, AP)