Tuesday, November 16, 2010

BBC update on haiti

Daniel here - Sharon has asked me to post this news article from the BBC.

16 November 2010

UN agencies expected a significant increase in the number of cholera cases after a nationwide review.... Cholera is now present in all 10 of Haiti's provinces."


UN peacekeepers kill demonstrator amid cholera protest

At least one man has been shot dead in clashes with UN peacekeepers in Haiti, amid a continuing cholera epidemic that has killed more than 900 people.

UN troops fired tear gas to disperse demonstrators throwing stones and blocking roads in Cap Haitien.

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

The UN says it has found no evidence to justify the accusation, but the cholera strain matches a South Asian one.

A demonstrator was shot and killed by a United Nations peacekeeper during an exchange of gunfire in Quartier Morin, on the outskirts of Haiti's second largest city, Cap Haitien, the UN mission said.

"There was a demonstrator who had a weapon and fired at a soldier, and the soldier returned fire in legitimate self-defence," said Minustah (UN mission in Haiti) spokesman Vicenzo Pugliese.

Hundreds of protesters threw stones at UN peacekeepers, set up burning barricades and torched a police station in Cap Haitien.

Six UN peacekeepers were injured in the clashes, the UN said. At least 10 people were also injured.

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

Protesters also clashed with UN troops from Nepal in the central town of Hinche.

'National security'

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 the demonstrations showed the cholera outbreak had gone beyond a health crisis to become "an issue of national security".

He added that 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.

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

Aid agencies are battling to contain the disease in the capital Port-au-Prince, amid fears it will spread through camps housing 1.1 million earthquake survivors.

President Rene Preval addressed the nation on Sunday to implore people to use good hygiene to prevent infection.

But many Haitians lack access to clean water, soap and proper sanitation.

The UN has appealed for $164m (£101m) to tackle the epidemic over the next year.

A woman carries a relative suffering from cholera into a temporary hospital in Port-au-Prince The UN expects the cholera outbreak will get much worse

The worst affected area remains the central province of Artibonite, where at least 595 people have died.

In Port-au-Prince - which was badly damaged by the earthquake in January - 27 deaths have been recorded, most of them in the slum district of Cite Soleil.

Earlier this month, Hurricane Tomas brought heavy rains, which aid agencies say contributed to the spread of the disease, as rivers burst their banks.

Up to 200,000 Haitians could contract cholera, the United Nations says.

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

Presidential and parliamentary elections are due to take place in two weeks, on 28 November.

Civil Unrest - a different day in the life.

Tuesday morning, 10 a.m., Comfort Suites, Providentiales, Turks and Caicos.
The plan was for me to be picked up at the Cap-Haitien airport at 9 a.m.  Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men...

Going to Haiti for an extended stay means routines - pay the hydro in advance, put the phone on seasonal service and pay it in advance, prepare and deliver rent cheques for the upcoming year, deliver a cheque to the insurance rep., who will fill it out and notify me of premium.  Prepare and mail all tax receipts for donations received to date.  And of course some things just never go smoothly.  For example the eight automated phone calls I received informing me I had to be at home for a telephone service rep to come out and put the phone on suspension.  After three phone calls to the company, the automated messages continued and I left it in the hands of the universe.

Then the actual trip preparations: purchase supplies needed, pack, weigh suitcases, always mindful that Westjet (until Jan 2011) allows two suitcases, but Air Turks and Caicos only one at 50 pounds.  Any overage is $1USD per pound.  So contents of that second suitcase better be worth the amount charged.  I probably pack and weigh 4 or 5 times before I finally walk out the door at 6 a.m. Monday to meet the taxi I had booked the previous day.  I'm flying into Provo on a Monday as the Saturday flight is mayhem - 4 large carriers arriving within minutes of each other, creating long lines for customs, longer waits for luggage, and being jammed into a taxi van with 9 others, all going to different resorts, each person charged the same amount, $26USD. Monday proved to be not such a great idea, as traffic from Orangeville down to the airport was bumper to bumper, forcing the driver to take the toll road to arrive in decent time.

But I did arrive, printed my own bording pass (soo proud of that accomplishment), stowed luggage and settled in to wait.  As I sat in the lounge a young woman arrived with twins.  Of course I had to see them, had to ask how old (1 month) and complimented mom on her courage flying already.  But she was't going on a holiday - she was Haitian and her and her husband were returning to St. Marc where he is a pastor.  We switched to Kreyol, making me feel at home already.  I didn't see them after boarding but the flight was smooth, as was the customs line.  Same crowded taxi but no hardship.

By 3:45p.m. I was settled in.  As the hotel in Provo has wifi in the rooms, I decided to check emails before heading out to purchase potable water.

One new email, from the airline, time stamped 3:37p.m.  It reads "Good afternoon, please be advised that flight PLS/CAP has been cancelled due to CIVIL UNREST in Cap-Haitien. Please call to rebook".

You must be kidding.  And of course no one was in the office to answer my call, nor did my email receive a reply.  So I kept the taxi reservation for 6:30 this morning and went to the airport.  The airport in Cap is closed, I was told.  Call us.  Yes, and someone will really answer?  No thank you, I asked to speak to someone who could help.  I don't travel with money to burn.  The manager arrived about 8:30 and very gently said that this was an act of God (news to me) so the airline would not provide vouchers or reimburse any expenses incurred.

So I am back in room 103.  Thank goodness it had not been cleaned, it feels a bit like home with my half gallon of potable water waiting.

This is when I realize how necessary the internet and inverter/solar set up are for our home in Cap-Haitien.  I cannot reach the staff.  The phone doesn't ring in.  Auguste would have to go to town to find a functioning cybercafe to find out what is happening. From the sound of it, going into town is not such a good idea right now.  Being self contained once again is the goal.  That has become the priority.

I will make the best of this enforced stay.  I would rather be home in Cap but it will come.  We have endured frequent "Civil Unrest".  Let me know if you have any further information and I will do the same.  As the Haitians say "Demen si dye vle" (to-morrow, God willing).

Will update asap.



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