News Feature | August 18, 2016

Audit Reveals Dangerous Sewage Practices By United Nations

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

An internal report conducted by the United Nations indicates that the organization may be worsening the public health crisis in Haiti through unhealthy sewage practices.

“The United Nations uncovered serious sanitation failures in its Haiti peacekeeping mission just a month after a deadly cholera outbreak erupted in the country, killing thousands, a leaked report has revealed,” The Guardian reported.

Fox News reported that UN peacekeepers mishandled sewage in a variety of ways, citing an internal audit conducted by the UN:

  • poured inadequately-treated sewage wastewater into Haitian public canals;
  • ignored urgent laboratory warnings that some of the tainted liquid contained fecal contamination, as well as other indicators that it was improperly cleansed;
  • ignored maintenance of water treatment plants at U.N. peacekeeper camps;
  • failed to inspect water treatment plants, as well as septic tanks, as required;
  • skipped vital chlorination of wastewater treatment sites and other disposal facilities;
  • left abandoned camps laden with garbage and sometimes with toilets and septic tanks overflowing with human waste;
  • failed to demand proof that contractors disposing of human sewage from peacekeeping latrines were actually depositing their cargos, as required, in government-approved dumping sites;
  • allowed a garbage contractor, sometimes using substandard trucks that spilled parts of their load, to dump material at unauthorized open sites, including one close to a local water supply.

The audits conclusions may increase pressure on the UN to address its role in Haiti’s cholera crisis, according to The Guardian.

“The UN is currently facing a lawsuit from 1,500 Haitians who blame the world organization for negligently allowing peacekeepers from Nepal to carry the disease into the country, months after Haiti was devastated by an earthquake,” the report said.

According to NPR, the UN has received thousands of complaints from Haiti residents who say the cholera epidemic has affected their families. Many argue that the UN should compensate Haiti’s afflicted.

“One letter was from Jean-Clair Desir, a student who lost his mother to cholera early in the outbreak. ‘President, Members of the United Nations Security Council and all other responsible, I lift my head to look at the sky so I may strongly salute you,’ he wrote. ‘I know you are promoting human rights and respect, [but] in fact ... you refused to compensate us; that is bad,’” the report said.