Cholera protesters in Haiti capital stone UN patrol

The demonstrators accuse UN peacekeepers of bringing Cholera to Haiti.

Last Updated: Nov 19, 2010, 10:18 AM IST

Port-au-Prince: Several hundred protesters stoned a UN patrol and yelled anti-UN slogans in Haiti`s capital Port-au-Prince on Thursday as anger spread over a cholera epidemic that is killing dozens of people every day.

Police fired tear gas to disperse the demonstrators who accuse UN peacekeepers of bringing the disease to the Caribbean nation, where national elections are to be held on November 28, more than 10 months after a devastating earthquake.

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

A patrol of UN troops in their traditional 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.

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 and well over 18,000 sick.

The Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation said its Haiti country office had received reports of cholera victims dying in the streets because they were unable to reach health facilities in time.

"Cholera treatment is simple, but access is key," the PAHO representative in Port-au-Prince, Dr Lea Guido, said.

The unrest has 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.

Bureau Report