Nightly News   |  October 08, 2013

New lawsuit accuses UN of cholera cover-up

The UN has refused to respond to allegations that it is responsible for the cholera epidemic in Haiti, citing diplomatic immunity. NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman reports.

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>>> we are back as promised with our exclusive reporting about who is responsible for the monumental health crisis going on, not far from our shores, an epidemic of cholera that went on almost four years ago. nbc learned that lawyers will file a class action lawsuit tomorrow accusing the u.n. of spreading this disease. our chief medical editor dr. nancy snyderman recently traveled to haiti to report on the epidemic.

>> reporter: this is 5-year-old christina. a cholera victim who remembers her manners, christina is one of the lucky ones , she is going to make it. but others have not been so fortunate. she lost her family members to cholera.

>> i am sad, i'm really sad.

>> reporter: the fever is gone, the cholera epidemic has compounded the suffering i witnessed after the devastating earthquake in 2010 , since then, it has become one of the world's worst health crisis, sickening many, killing others, a batallion of troops went to haiti . one of the peacekeeper was most likely carrying cholera, this is the site where the cholera-laden water was introduced to the country that has not seen it for years. but the u.n. has refused to respond to allegations that it is responsible for the epidemic, citing diplomatic immunity. there has been no compensation, no apology. the american and haitian lawyers will file the class action lawsuit in court tomorrow.

>> the u.n. is there to fight disease and poverty, but it is a major contributor to disease and poverty in haiti , and refusing to take responsibility for it.

>> reporter: what is the stance of the u.n. refusing to take responsibility for that.

>> i can't answer that.

>> reporter: she is one of the top officials in haiti , when there is blame to go around, isn't it important for them to say yes, it is us?

>> well, unfortunately, i can't answer that question, i think here in haiti , what is more important is to deal with health system we're in, we're improving other areas.

>> reporter: little reassurance for her, whose family has received no assistance.

>> it means the victims are entitled to their day in national court, if the u.n. won't give them justice within their country.

>> reporter: they and others are counting on the lawsuit, hoping that the courts will finally bring justice for their families and force the u.n. to be accountable. the lawsuit also accuses the u.n. of a cover-up, saying that it willfully delayed investigation into the outbreak, and obscured the source of the outbreak. the u.n. says it does not give information on claims.