New York: The UN has rejected the charge that Nepali peacekeepers in Haiti brought cholera to the Caribbean nation which claimed more than 1,100 lives.
"From a medical point of view, there has been no direct connection established between cholera and this contingent of soldiers," Farhan Haq, UN spokesperson, told journalists on Thursday.
"Although the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) had established that the cholera strain in Haiti was the South Asian strain, that strain has travelled around the world and is not confined to South Asia," he added.
The infection is spreading quickly due to the unhygienic conditions prevailing in makeshift camps that shelter close to a million people who were displaced by the powerful earthquake last January.
The outbreak of cholera had led to violent protests in Haiti against the peacekeepers, which have claimed the lives of two people. Yesterday, reports from the ground said that hundreds of angry protesters stoned a UN patrol in Haiti.
Haq confirmed that one person had died earlier this week when some demonstrators fired on UN troops and the United Nations fired in self-defence.
Haq noted that in recent days the UN mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) had undertaken several tests, which had failed to link the outbreak of cholera with the peacekeepers.
The UN spokesperson said that that tests of water samples from the Nepalese military camp in Mirebalais and waters adjacent to the base proved negative for the presence of cholera.
Further, Government of Haiti also took water samples from the river adjacent to the Nepalese base, which also proved negative for cholera.
Haq also noted that MINUSTAH had expressed its willingness to participate in any further investigation into the source of the infection.
Meanwhile, a US government health expert that the cholera outbreak in Haiti could continue for years.
"We expect that cases will continue, and that the organism will likely be present in the environment for a number of years," said Manoj Menon, the US CDC liaison to the USAID on the cholera outbreak, as quoted by Voice of America. More than 18,000 people are sick in the country.