Riots erupt over accusations peacekeepers brought disease

An outbreak of cholera has killed more than 1,000 people, the Haitian government said Tuesday as it sent top officials to the country’s north in hopes of quelling violent protests against U.N. peacekeepers accused of spreading the disease.

A child suffering cholera symptoms is checked by a doctor at the Doctors Without Borders temporary hospital in Port-au-Prince

A child suffering cholera symptoms is checked by a doctor at the Doctors Without Borders temporary hospital in Port-au-Prince

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — An outbreak of cholera has killed more than 1,000 people, the Haitian government said Tuesday as it sent top officials to the country’s north in hopes of quelling violent protests against U.N. peacekeepers accused of spreading the disease.

As the barricades burned, the disease continued spreading across Haiti and potentially the island of Hispaniola. Authorities in the Dominican Republic reported their country’s first confirmed case of cholera in Higuey, near the tourist mecca of Punta Cana.

The man was a Haitian citizen who had recently returned from a 12-day vacation in neighbouring Haiti.

The news alarmed Dominicans, but the spread of the disease is easily prevented with good hygiene and sanitation, and no locally originated cholera cases have been reported.

Haiti’s police chief, the health minister and other Cabinet officials headed to Cap-Haitien, the country’s second largest city, where protesters erected barricades of flaming tires and other debris and clashed with U.N. troops.

At least two demonstrators died, one of them shot by a member of the multinational peacekeeping force that has been trying to keep order since 2004.

A U.N. World Food Program warehouse was looted and burned.

The cholera outbreak that began last month has brought increased misery to the entire country, still struggling with the aftermath of last January’s earthquake.

But anger has been particularly acute in the north, where the infection is newer, health care sparse and people have died at more than twice the rate of the region where the epidemic was first noticed.

The health ministry said Tuesday that the official death toll hit 1,034 as of Sunday.

Aid workers say the official numbers may understate the epidemic. While the ministry of health says more than 16,700 people have been hospitalized nationwide, Doctors Without Borders reports that its clinics alone have treated at least 16,500.

On Tuesday, during a second day of rioting throughout northern Haiti, local reporters said a police station was burned in Cap-Haitien and rocks thrown at peacekeeping bases.

In the town of Limbe, west of Cap-Haitien, the unrest carried through the night Monday as screams and chants filled the streets, said Beth Macy, a reporter for The Roanoke Times who accompanied a Virginia medical mission to Haiti.

The group hunkered down in the hospital as protesters pelted the gate with stones, she said in a newspaper blog post.

President Rene Preval called for the violence to stop Tuesday as rumours circulated of possible Wednesday protests in Port-au-Prince. He said barricades were keeping people from getting needed care, and admonished that looting would not help stem the tide of the disease.

The U.N. cancelled flights carrying soap, medical supplies and personnel to Cap-Haitien and Port-de-Paix because of the violence, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.

Oxfam suspended water chlorination projects and the World Health Organization halted training of medical staff, the U.N. humanitarian office added in its news release.

The violence has combined some Haitians’ long-standing resentment of the 12,000-member U.N. military mission with the internationally shared suspicion that the U.N. base could have been a source of the infection.

Health experts have called for an independent investigation into whether Nepalese peacekeepers introduced the South Asian strain of cholera to Haiti, where no case of cholera had ever been documented before late October.

The U.N. denies responsibility, and a mission spokesman said the protests were politically motivated. Haiti’s national elections are scheduled for Nov. 28.

Cholera is transmitted by feces and can be all but prevented if people have access to safe drinking water and regularly wash their hands.

But sanitary conditions don’t exist in much of Haiti, and the disease has spread across the countryside and to nearly all the country’s major population centres, including the capital, Port-au-Prince. There are concerns it could eventually sicken hundreds of thousands of people.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Red Deer clinical research centre participating in plant-based COVID-19 vaccine trial

A Red Deer research centre has been selected to participate in the… Continue reading

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Red Deer jumps to 449 active COVID-19 cases on Sunday

1,516 new cases identified in Alberta

The QEII was closed Sunday morning due to a pole fire. (Photo courtesy City of Red Deer)
UPDATE: QEII near Red Deer reopens

The QEII has been reopened after being closed due to a pole… Continue reading

Innisfail RCMP are investigating a single-vehicle crash that happened west of Bowden on March 21, 2021. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Bashaw RCMP investigate fatal collision in central Alberta

Bashaw RCMP are investigating after a fatal collision Saturday afternoon. Police were… Continue reading

A damaged unicorn statue is shown in a field outside of Delia, Alta. in this undated handout photo. It's not often police can report that a unicorn has been found, but it was the truth Saturday when RCMP said a stolen, stainless-steel statue of the mythical beast had been located in a field not far from where he'd been taken. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Mounties get their unicorn; stolen statue of mythical beast found in Alberta field

DELIA, Alta. — It’s not often police can report that a unicorn… Continue reading

Investigators from the Vancouver Police Department were in Chilliwack Saturday, collecting evidence connected to a double homicide. (file photo)
Police investigate shooting death of man outside downtown Vancouver restaurant

Vancouver police say one man was killed in what they believe was… Continue reading

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start registering people 18 years and older for COVID-19 vaccines

VICTORIA — The British Columbia government says it’s inviting people 18 years… Continue reading

San Jose's Tomas Hertl, center, celebrates with teammates Patrick Marleau, left, and Rudolfs Blacers, right, after Hertl scored a goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Minnesota Wild, Friday, April 16, 2021, in St. Paul, Minn. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)
Patrick Marleau set to break Gordie Howe’s games record

For Patrick Marleau, the best part about Monday night when he is… Continue reading

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a press briefing at the White House, Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Half of U.S. adults have received at least one COVID-19 shot

WASHINGTON — Half of all adults in the U.S. have received at… Continue reading

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Federal government to send health-care workers to Ontario, Trudeau says

MONTREAL — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says federal departments and some Canadian… Continue reading

People cross a busy street in the shopping district of Flushing on Tuesday, March 30, 2021, in the Queens borough of New York. Access to the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States is growing by the day. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kathy Willens
Despite COVID-19 vaccines, Americans in D.C. not feeling celebratory — or charitable

WASHINGTON — This might make Canadians jealous of their American cousins for… Continue reading

A man pays his respects at a roadside memorial in Portapique, N.S. on Thursday, April 23, 2021. RCMP say at least 22 people are dead after a man who at one point wore a police uniform and drove a mock-up cruiser, went on a murder rampage in Portapique and several other Nova Scotia communities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Memorial service in Nova Scotia marks one year since mass shooting started

TRURO, N.S. — A memorial service is planned for today in central… Continue reading

In this April 23, 2016, photo, David Goethel sorts cod and haddock while fishing off the coast of New Hampshire. To Goethel, cod represents his identity, his ticket to middle class life, and his link to one the country's most historic industries, a fisherman who has caught New England's most recognized fish for more than 30 years. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
‘It’s more than just a fish:’ Scientists worry cod will never come back in N.L.

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — The latest assessment of Atlantic cod stocks, whose… Continue reading

Most Read