Cholera Protesters In Haiti Stone UN Patrol


Several hundred protesters stoned a UN patrol and yelled anti-UN slogans in Haiti’s  capital Port-au-Prince on Thursday.

Reports say the protest is the continuing spread of anger over cholera epidemic that  is killing dozens of people everyday.

Police fired teargas to disperse the demonstrators who blame UN peacekeepers for  bringing the disease to Haiti, where national elections are to be held on Nov. 28,  more than 10 months after a devastating earthquake.

Reports which said that Nepalese UN troops were the source of the raging cholera  outbreak have angered many in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest state, although the  UN says there is no conclusive evidence to support this.

A patrol of UN blue helmets withdrew hastily after they were pelted with stones by  the demonstrators, who also tried to block streets with rocks and debris.

The protesters shouted “MINUSTAH must go” and “MINUSTAH brought cholera to Haiti,”  referring to the acronym of the UN mission in the Caribbean country.

The protest in the heart of the capital followed several days of anti-UN riots in  the northern city of Cap-Haitien, where at least two people were killed and several  dozen injured in clashes between rioters and UN troops.

In the north of the country, the violence has badly disrupted UN-led international  efforts to stem the spread of the cholera epidemic that has killed more than 1,110  people with well over 18,000 having caught the water-borne disease.

It has also raised serious security questions ahead of this month’s presidential and  legislative elections as UN peacekeepers tasked with backing Haitian police  increasingly become the target of anger over the epidemic.

Cap-Haitien’s airport has been closed since Monday, preventing medical supplies and  personnel from being flown in.

Roads there have been blocked by stone-throwing protesters and burning barricades,  stopping cholera patients from reaching hospital, and a CNN correspondent in  Cap-Haitien said one hospital had reported 35 patients with gunshot wounds since  Monday.

“How the hell are we going to run a cholera response in the middle of this? You  can’t control a cholera epidemic if you don’t have security and if you can’t reach  people,” a frustrated foreign humanitarian worker told Reuters.

Haiti’s northern region is suffering a spike in the cholera epidemic, which has  affected six of 10 provinces and compounded the misery of the Jan. 12 earthquake  that killed more than 250,000 people and displaced more than 1 million.

Experts say tens of thousands of Haitians are at risk of infection and death unless  they can be treated quickly.

Haiti’s President Rene Preval and the UN mission have appealed for calm, while UN  officials blame the Cap-Haitien riots on criminals and political agitators they say  are seeking to disrupt the elections, which will choose a successor to Preval, a  99-member parliament and 11 members of the 30-seat Senate.

In New York on Thursday, UN spokesman, Farhan Haq, was asked about a Swedish media  report, citing Sweden’s ambassador to Haiti as saying the source of the cholera  outbreak was Nepal.

Haq told reporters the UN had no conclusive evidence of a link between UN  peacekeepers in Haiti and the epidemic. The South Asian strain of cholera in Haiti  had been found in many regions outside Asia, he said, and did not necessarily come  from the Nepalese peacekeepers.

The U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the Pan American Health  Organisation said the epidemic could worsen in spite of efforts to control it.

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