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article imageHaiti cholera victims protest against UN

By AFP     Sep 13, 2016 in World

Around 100 Haitian cholera victims protested Monday in front of the presidential palace demanding that the government obtain damages from the United Nations, whose peacekeepers are blamed for the epidemic.

"We are here so that (interim president) Jocelerme Privert finally takes the victims' side during the UN General Assembly next week," said Mario Joseph, a lawyer representing several people who contracted the disease.

In mid-August, nearly six years after the epidemic first spread in this impoverished island nation, the United Nations recognized that it had a "moral responsibility" toward the victims and promised material aid.

"The United Nations is finally recognizing it brought cholera here, so it's time for the Haitian authorities to say something," Joseph said.

"But since our country has experienced coups, the authorities say nothing because they want MINUSTAH (the UN mission) to always be there to protect them."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has recommended a six-month renewal of MINUSTAH, which was established in 2004.

Haitians fiercely opposed to the presence of the peacekeepers spoke of an international plot.

"Whenever the time comes to decide on whether to renew the mission, there is more insecurity in the city," said Martine Febert.

The UN peacekeepers "favor this insecurity in order to justify their presence and keep their jobs," said the 23-year-old.

Nearly 10,000 people have died from cholera in Haiti. With more than 500 cases of the disease each week, the country is facing the worst epidemic in the world in recent history.

Cholera, which is transmitted through contaminated drinking water and causes acute diarrhea, is a major challenge in a country with poor sanitary conditions.

Some 72 percent of Haitians have no toilets at home and 42 percent still lack access to drinking water, the UN says.

More about Haiti, Un, Health, Epidemic, Cholera
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