Haiti officials say cholera deaths now above 1,000

Amateur footage shows a group of protesters in Cap Haitien.

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More than 1,000 people have died from cholera in Haiti, as the outbreak spreads there, health officials say.

The Haitian health ministry said the number of people who had received hospital treatment for the disease had risen to nearly 16,800.

Meanwhile, United Nations peacekeepers have stepped up security after violent protests on Monday left two Haitians dead.

At least one of the men was shot dead by the UN peacekeepers.

The ministry said the number of dead from cholera up to Sunday was 1,034, which was 117 higher than the last official figure announced two days ago.

The number of those who had received hospital treatment had risen by about 2,150 since the previous update.

Graph of cholera cases and deaths

Cholera is now present in all 10 of Haiti's provinces.

The ministry said the worst-affected area remains the central province of Artibonite, where at least 629 people have died.

In Port-au-Prince - which was badly damaged by the earthquake in January - 38 deaths have been recorded, most of them in the slum district of Cite Soleil.

Some of the demonstrators accused peacekeepers from Nepal of introducing cholera to Haiti for the first time in a century.

A spokesman for the Nepalese army, Ramindra Chhettri, told AFP: "We are concerned. Our positions are being reinforced and Haitian police are helping the peacekeepers to protect themselves from attack."

The UN said one man was shot dead by peacekeepers in Haiti's second largest city, Cap Haitien, after he fired at a soldier.

But the AFP news agency quoted a local official as saying the young man had been shot in the back and the protesters had been armed with stones.

Another young man was killed by gunfire on a street in Cap Haitien during the clashes, police said. A number of locals and UN peacekeepers were injured in the clashes.

As well as calling for UN peacekeepers to leave Haiti, the demonstrators accused the government of leaving the people to die.

United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (Minustah)

  • The mission consists of 11,848 military and police personnel from 57 countries
  • Its original mandate to restore and secure stability was extended after January's earthquake to support reconstruction and recovery
  • Almost 100 peacekeepers were killed by the earthquake - the biggest single loss of life in UN peacekeeping history
  • The cost of the mission for the six months to the end of December 2010 is $380m (£237m)

Source: Minustah

The UN says it has found no evidence to justify the accusation against the Nepalese troops, but the cholera strain matches a South Asian one. The Nepalese army said tests had proved that the allegation regarding its personnel was false.

Increase expected

The anger directed at UN peacekeepers was such that it required Haitian police to offer the UN troops protection, a police director in Cap Haitien told Reuters news agency.

"You cannot imagine how difficult it is," Joany Caneus said.

"We don't only have to protect the population, we have to protect UN troops."

The UN blamed the violence on political agitators it said were determined to disrupt presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for 28 November.

In a statement, it urged the Haitian population "not to allow itself to be manipulated by the enemies of stability and democracy".

Cholera

  • Intestinal infection caused by bacteria transmitted through contaminated water or food
  • Source of contamination usually faeces of infected people
  • Causes diarrhoea, vomiting, severe dehydration; can kill quickly

There have also been protests against the location of cholera treatment centres, which some people fear will bring the disease into their neighbourhoods.

The UN humanitarian co-ordinator for Haiti, Nigel Fisher, said UN agencies expected a significant increase in the number of cholera cases after a nationwide review.

"It is spreading and we have to try to contain the number of cases and we have to try to contain the number of deaths," Mr Fisher said.

Roland Van Hauwermeiren, country director for Oxfam, said the spread of cholera country-wide was a "direct result of the abysmal sanitation infrastructure throughout Haiti that was a serious problem long before January's earthquake".

Oxfam's most recent cholera response programme, in northern Cap-Haitien, has been suspended due to the protests, but will resume as soon as possible, a statement said.

Cholera itself causes diarrhoea and vomiting, leading to severe dehydration. It can kill quickly, but is treated easily through rehydration and antibiotics.

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