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Protesters in Haiti have attacked UN peacekeepers over a suspicion that Nepalese soldiers brought the cholera epidemic which has swept the country and killed 1,000 people.
Crowds in two northern towns hurled rocks, set up burning barricades and blocked roads to protest against the foreign troops and the government’s response to the crisis, rattling authorities and the UN in the runup to a 28 November election.
Cap-Haitien, the country’s second city, was this morning cut off from the rest of Haiti after a day of rioting shut its roads and airport and left more than a dozen people wounded. Clashes in the town of Hinche injured seven Nepalese peacekeepers, according to local radio.
The flare-ups followed mounting anger and fear over a disease which many blame on effluent from a base used by Nepalese troops in the Artibonite valley, where the outbreak began three weeks ago.
The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention found that the strain, which has infected more than 15,000 people and reached all 10 departments, resembled one from south Asia. Haiti’s first epidemic in living memory began in the valley a week after the Nepalese arrived.
UN officials have admitted problems with the base’s sanitation but denied its soldiers brought the disease, which is spread by contaminated faeces. No official investigation into the epidemic’s origin has been launched despite appeals from Haitian leaders and foreign epidemiologists.
“In Haiti most of the population believes it came from the Nepalese and that the UN will do its best to hide it,” said Prospery Raymond, country director of the UK-based NGO Christian Aid. “If it is confirmed to be from them this will be damaging for the UN and their peacekeeping all over the world.”
The outbreak has flooded clinics and hospitals with vomiting, diarrhea-stricken patients. Experts say more than 200,000 could become infected in coming months.
With no previous knowlege of cholera many Haitians are unsure how to avoid contagion. Experts say washing hands with soap, especially after going to the toilet, is the best prevention. Treatment – usually an IV drip and rehydration – is relatively simple and fast and saves the vast majority of those infected.
Even so, emergency teams are worried. “If it keeps accelerating we will not be able to keep up,” said Francois Servranckx, spokesperson for Doctors Without Borders, a non-governmental organisation which has treated 10,000 patients at improvised tent clinics.
Donors credit the UN peacekeeping force, known as Minustah, with keeping the Caribbean nation relatively stable in recent years despite food price riots, hurricanes and January’s earthquake. Many Haitians however brand the blue helmets an expensive and useless occupation force.
Haitians are also critical of their government for letting the disease spread from the Artibonite valley to cities where millions live in slums, rubble and tents. “Now it’s here and they’re wringing their hands. Not good enough!” said Alfred Roberts, a father of two in the capital Port-au-Prince.
The outbreak has put a question mark over whether presidential and legislative elections, already troubled by logistical and political problems, will go ahead on schedule later this month.
Deficit cutters struggling to make ends meet in Washington are eyeballing an unusual pot of potential revenue: back taxes owed to the government by federal employees themselves.
According to an IRS study, those employees and federal retirees owed a staggering $3.3 billion in delinquent tax payments to the government. The agency with the largest back-tax bill? The US Postal Service.
Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), once one of the most powerful members of the House, was convicted Tuesday on eleven counts of violating ethics rules and now faces punishment.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the House ethics committee, announced the decision late Tuesday morning following a public trial and nearly six hours of deliberations.
Going through airport security this past weekend, radio host Owen JJ Stone, known as “OhDoctah,” related how he was told that the rules had been changed and was offered a private screening.
When he asked what the procedure entailed, the TSA agent responded, “I have to go in your waistband, I have to put my hand down your pants,” after which he did precisely that. Stone chose to conduct the search in public.
The Transportation Security Administration has opened an investigation targeting John Tyner, who left Lindbergh Field under duress on Saturday morning after refusing to undertake a full body scan.
Tyner recorded the encounter on his cell phone and later posted it to his personal blog, along with an extensive account of the incident. The blog went viral, attracting hundreds of thousands of readers.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick on Tuesday vowed to adopt the rest of an advisory panel’s immigration reform recommendations, including pushing for in-state tuition for illegal immigrant students at state colleges, during his second term.
The Democrat made the announcement to cheers at the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition’s Thanksgiving luncheon.
Bucking the Fed’s efforts to push interest rates lower, investors are selling off U.S. government debt, driving rates in many cases to their highest levels in more than three months.
The Federal Reserve’s $600 billion program to buy Treasury bonds began late last week and is kicking into high gear this week, with the central bank buying up tens of billions of dollars of debt.
An agreement between the U.S. and Russia to slash their nuclear arsenals was in danger of collapse after an influential Republican senator said Tuesday it should not be voted on this year.
With a terse statement, Senator Jon Kyl dealt a major setback to President Barack Obama’s efforts to improve ties with Russia and to his broader strategy for reducing nuclear arms worldwide.