Throughout the country, graffiti slurring the forces is as prominent as the troops’ trademark blue helmets. A parliamentary recently referred to the mission as a "fish bone stuck in our throats." Ms. Van den Wildenberg, the UN spokesman, says the damage these cases have done to MINUSTAH is irreparable.
“What happened is ying and yang,” says Van den Wildenberg. “It is the opposite of why we are here, to defend the highest values and ideals and this is killing our credibility worldwide.... We will always wear the scar.” She says MINUSTAH and the UN are very sorry for what happened but their apologies are “not being heard anymore.”
'More than an apology'
Many victims are looking for more than an apology, though. A Haitian public interest law firm – supported by a nonprofit organization and law firms in the US – is claiming on behalf of 5,000 cholera victims that MINUSTAH is liable for hundreds of millions of dollars for failing to adequately screen and treat peacekeeping soldiers arriving from countries experiencing cholera epidemics; dumping untreated wastes from a UN base directly into a tributary of Haiti's longest and most important river, the Artibonite, and failing to adequately respond to the epidemic.
Ruth Wedgewood, a former UN Human Rights Commission member, doesn’t think the UN will ever pay the $700 million requested in damages, but, she says, the UN should protect the rest of the population from what is now an endemic disease.