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Haiti - Epidemic : Violence endangers humanitarian aid in North
17/11/2010 13:28:53

Haiti - Epidemic : Violence endangers humanitarian aid in North
The humanitarian community in Haiti calls for an immediate end to violent demonstrations in Cap Haitien, which are seriously hampering the humanitarian response to a rapidly escalating cholera outbreak in the area.

Speaking on behalf of the humanitarian community, Humanitarian Coordinator Nigel Fisher said that while supplies in Cap Haitien run low, medical staff are overwhelmed and cholera mortality climbs, the security situation is preventing vital supplies from reaching those there to help. The Nord Department is currently experiencing a case fatality rate of 7.5% - the highest in Haiti.

"We call upon all involved in these clearly orchestrated demonstrations to stop immediately so national and international partners can continue to save lives with our response to the cholera," said Mr Fisher. "Every day we lose means hospitals go without supplies, patients go untreated and people remain ignorant of the danger they are facing. It is vital that everything possible is done to contain this outbreak in Cap Haitien while we still can - but this is very difficult in the current environment."

So far, the UN has been forced to cancel flights carrying soap, medical supplies and personnel to Cap Haitien and Port de Paix. On the ground, Oxfam reports suspension of a project to chlorinate water for 300,000 people in slum areas, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has halted training of medical staff in cholera response and a World Food Programme (WFP) warehouse has been looted of 500 metric tonnes of food and burned. Road blocks set up by demonstrators are also hampering people from getting to hospital.

"We condemn without reservation the attack on the WFP warehouse, and the looting of such life saving supplies," added Mr Fisher. "We call upon all who perpetrate such acts to remember that such supplies and the urgent work to combat cholera are the difference between life and death for everyone affected by this epidemic."

President Rene Preval has sent yesterday Tuesday, a high-level government delegation consisting of Ministers of Interior and Local Authorities, Paul Antoine Bien-Aimé, Public Works, Transport and Communications, Jacques Gabriel, Public Health and Population, Alex Larsen, Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural Development, Joanas Gué, the Minister Delegate to the Prime Minister, Joseph Jasmin, and the Director General of National Police of Haiti, Mario Andresol to take steps to normalize the situation.

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