Thursday, November 18, 2010

Swedish diplomat: US official confirms cholera outbreak in Haiti started with UN troops

Burning election posters of Preval's ruling INITE
party in Port au Prince, Haiti. ©2010 HIP

By Kevin Pina & Jean Ristil

Yesterday the story broke in the Scandinavian press that a Swedish Ambassador had finally confirmed what angry protesters have suspected along, the cholera epidemic in Haiti was imported by the Nepalese contingent of the United Nations.

The Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladets interviewed the Swedish Ambassador to the Caribbean, Claes Hammar who stated, "Unfortunately that is the case. It has proved that the cholera came from Nepal." When pressed for his source Hammar replied, "a diplomatic source. It is 100 per cent true. Tests were made and the source was traced to Nepal."

Claes Hammar, Swedish Ambassador to the Caribbean
PHOTO: Svenska Dagbladets

The Helsinki daily HELSINGIN SANOMAT followed up with a second interview where Hammar gave more details about his source, “I consider my source to be a reliable one. It is a US official, but I cannot say who.” HELSINGIN SANOMAT added that Hammar told them the tests taken by the US official were "at a camp of Nepalese UN workers."

This new information follows two days of denials by the UN who have accused protesters in Haiti of trying to destabilize the country before much touted elections. Three protesters were killed by UN troops in Haiti's second largest city of Cap Haitien over the past three days. Adding to growing frustration over the UN's denial of the source of the cholera epidemic in Haiti are their recent statements that protesters were shot by "local gangs " and not UN troops in Cap Haitien.  A Haitian journalist interviewed yesterday in Cap Haitien via telephone commented, "The UN has lost all credibility. Rather than showing people they are accountable and taking responsibility they react with guns and then lie about it. People no longer believe anything they say."

Protestors paint "UN=cholera" and "thief' on the back
of a Haitian government vehicle ©2010 HIP

Anger also spilled into Haiti's capital of Port au Prince yesterday with roving bands of demonstrators burning tires and ripping down election posters belonging to candidates of current president Rene Preval's INITE party.

The UN is bracing itself for more demonstrations today in Port au Prince and Cap Haitien. Today's protests  have special significance in Haiti as they mark the 207th anniversary of the Battle of Vetieres where General Jean-Jacques Dessalines led an army of former slaves to defeat the French. Winning this crucial battle led to the establishment of the world's first black republic, the Republic of Haiti, on January 1, 1804.

ADDENDUM: After nearly two months of denials by UN Chief Edmond Mulet in Haiti,  more conclusive evidence announced of the cholera strain being imported by Nepalese troops:

Expert report says Haiti cholera outbreak came from UN camp

Agence France-Presse
First Posted 21:13:00 12/07/2010

PARIS - The cholera outbreak ravaging Haiti began at a camp for UN peacekeepers from Nepal, according to an expert report submitted to the French foreign ministry, a source close to the matter told AFP Tuesday.

Respected French epidemiologist Professor Renaud Piarroux conducted a study in Haiti last month and concluded the epidemic began with an imported strain of the disease and broke out at the Nepalese base, the official said.

Foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero would not discuss the conclusion of the report, but confirmed that the foreign ministry had received a copy and said that it had been passed on to the United Nations' investigation.