UN admits role in Haiti cholera outbreak that killed 10,000 people

From RT
August 18, 2016

United Nations officials acknowledged, for the first time, the role peacekeepers played in the 2010 deadly cholera outbreak in Haiti that killed 10,000 people and sickened hundreds of thousands of others.

The Office of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in an email this week said “the UN has become convinced that it needs to do much more regarding its own involvement in the initial outbreak and the suffering of those affected by cholera,” reported the New York Times.

For six years, UN officials refused to accept blame for bringing cholera to Haiti, but suspicions settled on a group of UN troops from Nepal who arrived after the January 2010 earthquake. Nepal had a cholera epidemic underway at the time and raw sewage from the latrines at the UN troops’ came was allowed to seep into an adjacent river.

The earthquake crippled the capital of Port-au-Prince, killing 200,000 people, then the cholera outbreak sickened hundreds of thousands of others, and killing 10,000.

The families of 5,000 Haitian cholera victims petitioned the United Nations in 2011 for redress, but its Office of Legal Affairs simply declared their claims “not receivable.

An attorney who represents Haitian cholera victims who have filed a suit in US federal court seeking reparations from the UN told the Washington Post that acceptance of culpability could make it more likely plaintiffs will finally receive financial compensation.

“The UN has broad immunity from national courts, but that has always been conditioned on providing remedies out of court to victims who are harmed by UN operations,” Beatrice Lindstrom told the Washington Post. “It has been in breach of the treaty granting it immunity in the first place, so if the UN follows through on remedies, that would make questions of immunity mute.”

UN “peacekeepers” were deployed to Haiti following the 2004 ouster of then-president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

The deputy spokesman for the secretary-general, Farhan Haq, told the New York Times the United Nations will draft a new response within two months and present it “once it has been fully elaborated, agreed with the Haitian authorities and discussed with member states.”

“This is a major victory for the thousands of Haitians who have been marching for justice, writing to the UN and bringing the UN to court,” said Mario Joseph, a Haitian human rights lawyer representing victims of the epidemic.

The UN acknowledgment comes after top officials were provided a draft 19-page report by an adviser criticizing their handling of the cholera outbreak.

The report written by NYU law professor Philip Alston, the special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, will likely be published in September and present by Ban at the UN General Assembly in October.

Alston wrote that the United Nations’ Haiti cholera policy “is morally unconscionable, legally indefensible and politically self-defeatingaccording to the New York Times.

Alston went beyond criticizing the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to blame the entire United Nations system. As the magnitude of the disaster became known, key international officials carefully avoided acknowledging that the outbreak had resulted from discharges from the camp,” he noted.

When the outbreak occurred it spread rapidly in the muddy, crowded tent camps where Haitians had sought refuge after the quake. The disease continues to sicken Haitians, especially in rural parts of the country without access to clean drinking water. A new spike of infections has been reported this year.

A recent report by Doctors Without Borders has raised the possibility the disease may have killed far more Haitians than previously estimated.

The secretary-general stopped short of saying the United Nations caused the outbreak. The organization continues to hold the position it is immune from legal action as a result of the outbreak.

https://www.rt.com/usa/356428-un-admits-role-haiti-cholera/

More wildfires in Chernobyl exclusion zone

Posted on Optimal Prediction.com July 2, 2015

The latest wildfire to break out near Chernobyl has consumed 130 hectares. It started on June 29, and it is unclear whether it is still burning or not.

Experts have recorded 0.0025 becquerels of Cesium-137 per cubic meter of air. The inspection found that it is beyond the measures usually observed.

According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Emergency Situations, the fire in the Chernobyl exclusion zone continues, firefighters are unable to resolve the situation. (link)

Air near the desolated settlement of Polesskoye in the Chernobyl zone is contaminated with the radioactive element cesium-137. Its content in the air has reached a level called “sequence above the norm” (approximately ten times the norm), the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine (SNRI) reported on Wednesday.

Cesium-137 is one of the most dangerous nuclear elements, as it accumulates in the body and can lead to leukemia. (link)

The radiation risk involves the fire spreading to areas closer to the plant. But there is no danger of a new explosion.

Fire near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine poses a danger to the surrounding regions, expert of the Polish branch of Greenpeace Jan Haverkamp told TASS on Thursday.

“We are monitoring the situation. Fortunately, the fire has not yet reached the NPP reactor zone. It’s very dangerous that everything is happening in the nuclear power plant area. If the fire spreads there, a huge amount of radiation will get into the atmosphere,” he said. “It’s a risk, but the risk primarily to Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, as they are located in close vicinity,” Haverkamp said.

According to him, there will be no explosion, similar to the 1986 accident, and Eastern European countries, including Poland, have now nothing to worry about.

“We welcome the efforts of Ukrainian authorities that are doing their utmost to prevent the fire from spreading,” the expert said. (link)

http://optimalprediction.com/wp/another-fire-in-chernobyl-exclusion-zone-increasing-i-131-and-emissions-at-fukushima/

http://sputniknews.com/europe/20150702/1024111335.html

 

Forest fires heading for Chernobyl nuclear plant; expert warns of re-release of radiation into atmosphere

From RT
April 28, 2015

Video 2:52: http://img.rt.com/files/news/3d/fc/90/00/kosarev2300.mp4?event=download

The Ukrainian National Guard has been put on high alert due to worsening forest fires around the crippled Chernobyl nuclear power plant, according to Ukraine Interior Minister Arsen Avakov.

The forest fire situation around the Chernobyl power plant has worsened,” a statement on Avakov’s Facebook page says.

The forest fire is heading in the direction of Chernobyl’s installations. Treetop flames and strong gusts of wind have created a real danger of the fire spreading to an area within 20 kilometers of the power plant. There are about 400 hectares [988 acres] of forests in the endangered area.”

Police and National Guard units are on high alert. Ukraine’s Prime Minister personally went to the affected area to oversee the firefighting. He says the situation is under control, “but this is the biggest fire since 1992.”

However, in comments to Russia’s Moscow Speaks radio, a representative of Greenpeace Russia said that the situation is much worse: “A very large, catastrophic forest fire is taking place in a 30-km zone around the Chernobyl power plant. We estimate the real area of the fire to be 10,000 hectares; this is based on satellite images. This hasn’t been officially acknowledged yet.”

The potential danger in this fire comes from the radioactive contaminants the burning plants have absorbed, ecologist Christopher Busby told RT. “Some of the materials that were contaminating that area would have been incorporated into the woods. In other words, they land on the ground in 1986 and they get absorbed into the trees and all the biosphere. And when it burns, they just become re-suspended. It’s like Chernobyl all over again. All of that material that fell on the ground will now be burned up into the air and will become available for people to breathe.” Christopher Busby is the scientific secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risks.

Ecologist Dmitry Shevchenko from the Environmental Watch on North Caucasus says it is difficult to predict where exactly the contaminants will go: “We don’t have a real-time monitoring system for the Chernobyl area. We can hypothesize whether the radionuclides will go here or there, but there is no-one who can reliably predict the situation.”

Ukrainian emergency services say 182 people and 34 vehicles have been dispatched to fight the fire. A Mi-8 helicopter and three An-32 water dropping airplanes are also working at the scene. The efforts are being coordinated from a mobile emergency headquarters.

According to the head of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone management department, radiation levels in the area remain normal. “The area on fire is relatively clean,” Vasily Zolotoverkh told the newspaper kp.ua. He said the fire started at lunchtime, when emergency workers had finished putting out an earlier blaze which started during the night. The emergency services have stated that it could have been caused by a lit cigarette.

Ukraine’s acting head of emergency services said earlier the forest fires were not a threat to the sarcophagus sealing off Chernobyl’s crippled Reactor 4.

Chernobyl and the surrounding area have been abandoned and remain off-limits following the April 1986 disaster, when an explosion and fire released massive amounts of radioactive material into the atmosphere. Increased radiation levels were detected throughout Europe.

Chernobyl became the worst nuclear disaster in world history in terms of casualties and clean-up costs. Reactor 4, where the blast took place, was sealed off in a giant reinforced concrete sarcophagus to prevent further leaks.

http://rt.com/news/253897-chernobyl-fires-rage-ukraine/