Haitian protester killed by UN in cholera riot

Nepalese peacekeepers deny they are to blame for the epidemic, which threatens to afflict up to 200,000 people

After violent clashes in Haiti between protesters and United Nations forces that left several wounded and one civilian dead, UN officials yesterday were endeavouring to discredit claims that the cholera outbreak in the country can be traced to a contingent of peacekeepers recently deployed there from Nepal.

Attempts to blame the arrival of the disease – never before documented in Haiti – on conditions at an encampment of Nepalese peacekeepers in an area on the Artibonite River were described as "misinformation" by UN spokesperson Corinne Momal-Vanian.

The unrest began on Monday and was centred on Haiti's second-biggest city, Cap-Haitien, in the north, which remained mostly sealed off yesterday.

Clashes were reported in towns in the central plateau. The dead man was reportedly shot by UN forces during an exchange in Quartier Morin, near Cap-Haitien. The Haitian Government said last night that the death toll from outbreak had surpassed 1,000.

While demonstrations continued in parts of the north of the country, the UN said they were being contained. "Right now, security forces... seem to have control already of the situation," insisted Vincenzo Pugliese, a spokesman for Minustah, as the UN mission in Haiti is known.

Even before this week, the country's radio waves were speculating that the Nepalese soldiers could be the source of the epidemic which has also put almost 15,000 in already over-stretched hospitals. Some experts fear that unless it is contained quickly the water-borne disease could afflict as many as 200,000 people in Haiti where sanitary conditions are scarce.

In a statement, the UN Mission said the finger-pointing is tied to the presidential elections due at the end of this month. "The way events unfolded suggests that these incidents were politically motivated, aimed at creating a climate of insecurity on the eve of elections. Minustah calls the people to remain vigilant and not be manipulated by enemies of stability and democracy," the mission commanders said.

In Geneva, meanwhile, officials with the World Health Organisation insisted that combating the cholera outbreak in Haiti was more important at the moment than tracing its source. "At some time we will do further investigation but it's not a priority right now," said Fadela Chaib of the WHO.

The victim in Quartier Morin was reportedly shot in the back at a time when UN tanks were being targeted by stone-throwing protesters. The UN said it was investigating the shooting but insisted that the soldier who fired the shot had acted in self-defence.

Suspicions were directed at the Nepalese after reporters from the Associated Press went to the area where they are deployed and wrote of "foul-smelling waste" trickling towards the river from their camp.

There are cases of cholera in Nepal and the soldiers arrived in Haiti one week before the first cases were reported there.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said, moreover, that the strain of cholera now raging through Haiti is one previously seen in South Asia. There have been fears that as the cholera spreads pressure will grow for a delay in the elections on 28 November. However, for now that seems unlikely.

"We cannot postpone the election because of the cholera," insisted one of the candidates, Leslie Voltaire. "You don't know, if you postpone the election by a month or two, the cholera may be worse than it is today."

That emotions are running high in Haiti will surprise no one. The country suffered terribly with January's devastating earthquake. But beyond that, Haitians have often harboured resentment towards outsiders who they believe have brought them additional woe.

Thus, for example, another presidential candidate, Garaudy Laguerre, seemed deliberately to stir popular anger over the cholera outbreak at a recent rally in Miami, where there is a large number of Haitians eligible to vote. "Too often, Haitians die without reasons and without consequences. This time, there will be consequences," he said, vowing to open an investigation into the source of the outbreak if elected.

According to the Nepalese, there have been no cases of cholera in their camp and commanders in Kathmandu denied yesterday there was any link between their soldiers and the outbreak.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jay Z has placed a bet on streaming being the future for music and videos
music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury
music
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own