19th November, 2010
Several hundred protesters stoned a UN patrol and yelled anti-UN slogans in Haitiâ€™sÂ capital Port-au-Prince on Thursday.
Reports say the protest is the continuing spread of anger over cholera epidemic thatÂ is killing dozens of people everyday.
Police fired teargas to disperse the demonstrators who blame UN peacekeepers forÂ bringing the disease to Haiti, where national elections are to be held on Nov. 28,Â more than 10 months after a devastating earthquake.
Reports which said that Nepalese UN troops were the source of the raging choleraÂ outbreak have angered many in the Western Hemisphereâ€™s poorest state, although theÂ UN says there is no conclusive evidence to support this.
A patrol of UN blue helmets withdrew hastily after they were pelted with stones byÂ the demonstrators, who also tried to block streets with rocks and debris.
The protesters shouted â€œMINUSTAH must goâ€ and â€œMINUSTAH brought cholera to Haiti,â€Â 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 inÂ the northern city of Cap-Haitien, where at least two people were killed and severalÂ dozen injured in clashes between rioters and UN troops.
In the north of the country, the violence has badly disrupted UN-led internationalÂ efforts to stem the spread of the cholera epidemic that has killed more than 1,110Â people with well over 18,000 having caught the water-borne disease.
It has also raised serious security questions ahead of this monthâ€™s presidential andÂ legislative elections as UN peacekeepers tasked with backing Haitian policeÂ increasingly become the target of anger over the epidemic.
Cap-Haitienâ€™s airport has been closed since Monday, preventing medical supplies andÂ personnel from being flown in.
Roads there have been blocked by stone-throwing protesters and burning barricades,Â stopping cholera patients from reaching hospital, and a CNN correspondent inÂ Cap-Haitien said one hospital had reported 35 patients with gunshot wounds sinceÂ Monday.
â€œHow the hell are we going to run a cholera response in the middle of this? YouÂ canâ€™t control a cholera epidemic if you donâ€™t have security and if you canâ€™t reachÂ people,â€ a frustrated foreign humanitarian worker told Reuters.
Haitiâ€™s northern region is suffering a spike in the cholera epidemic, which hasÂ affected six of 10 provinces and compounded the misery of the Jan. 12 earthquakeÂ 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 unlessÂ they can be treated quickly.
Haitiâ€™s President Rene Preval and the UN mission have appealed for calm, while UNÂ officials blame the Cap-Haitien riots on criminals and political agitators they sayÂ are seeking to disrupt the elections, which will choose a successor to Preval, aÂ 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 mediaÂ report, citing Swedenâ€™s ambassador to Haiti as saying the source of the choleraÂ outbreak was Nepal.
Haq told reporters the UN had no conclusive evidence of a link between UNÂ peacekeepers in Haiti and the epidemic. The South Asian strain of cholera in HaitiÂ had been found in many regions outside Asia, he said, and did not necessarily comeÂ from the Nepalese peacekeepers.
The U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the Pan American HealthÂ Organisation said the epidemic could worsen in spite of efforts to control it.