CaribWorldNews, NEW YORK, NY, Weds. Dec. 8, 2010: A French disease expert has reportedly confirmed what many in the Haitian community have been saying for months now – that the cholera epidemic sweeping Haiti is largely linked to U.N. troops there.
Epidemiologist Renaud Piarroux, who conducted research in Haiti on behalf of the French and Haitian governments, has been cited in leaked reports as saying strong evidence suggests that the cholera outbreak was caused by contamination of a river by UN troops from Nepal.
The report by Piarroux found that the source of the outbreak was a Nepalese peacekeeping base, whose toilets contaminated the Artibonite river, according to a copy seen by the Associated Press news agency.
The river was the main focus of the outbreak when it began in October, but cholera has since spread throughout the country and Haitian protestors have directly blamed the U.N. increasingly in recent weeks for the new crisis.
The cholera epidemic in Haiti has so far killed 2120 people, and nearly 100,000 cases have been treated, according to the Haitian government.
The UN mission in Haiti, Minustah said it has neither accepted nor dismissed the findings insisting there was `no conclusive evidence` that UN peacekeepers were the source of the epidemic. But Minustah said the report by the French expert was `one report among many` and it was taking it `very seriously.`
The U.N. had previously rejected the charge that Nepali peacekeepers brought cholera to the Caribbean nation. Late last month, Farhan Haq, UN spokesperson, told journalists, `From a medical point of view, there has been no direct connection established between cholera and this contingent of soldiers.`
The strain of cholera has been matched by the Center of Disease Control to one from South Asia, although it is present in other Latin American countries. UN peacekeepers have been in Haiti since 2004.