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The United Nations warned Thursday of a possible outbreak of cholera cases in crisis-stricken Haiti.

The international organization has called for a humanitarian corridor to ease the blockade of the country’s main fuel import terminal to restore services and make clean water available.

Haiti announced Sunday its first cases of cholera in three years, with seven people dying from the disease.

Eleven cases have been confirmed and there are another 111 suspected cases, but the real numbers could be much higher, said Ulrika Richardson, UN resident and humanitarian aid coordinator for Haiti.

Speaking from Haiti via video, she said for now the cases appear to be mostly confined to the capital, Port-au-Prince.

“Under the current conditions in Haiti, and unless all the good conditions are met, we are really going to see an exponential, if not explosive, increase in cholera cases,” she said.

“You could even say that maybe the conditions are there for a perfect storm, unfortunately.”

Richardson said “the number (of those infected) could be much higher.”

Tests were being carried out overseas to determine if it was the same strain of cholera that killed more than 10,000 people between 2010 and 2019.

“Killing People”

Since the government announced fuel price hikes on 9/11, an already volatile and impoverished Haiti has been hit by riots, looting and demonstrations.

And since mid-September, the country’s largest import fuel terminal in Warre has been controlled by powerful armed groups.

“That means there’s a fuel shortage across the country,” Richardson said. Thus, some hospitals and others health care facilities are closing, and garbage is piling up on the streets.

The distribution of water was interrupted, which is dangerous, because clean water is necessary to fight a cholera epidemicbecause the bacteria that cause it are born in the water, Richardson explained.

United Nations and others humanitarian organizations on Thursday called for a humanitarian corridor to ensure the release of fuel at the Warre terminal and meet the immediate needs of the people.

The government should do everything possible to unblock fuel terminal, Richardson said.

And the gangs that hold the terminal should know, she said, that “it’s killing people, literally killing people.”

Richardson called on foreign powers to help Haiti strengthen its security forces, “which apparently are not sufficient to unlock the terminal.”

Top US diplomat Anthony Blinken, who was in Peru for the Organization of American States meeting, said: “We appreciate the efforts of the Haitian National Police, who are working tirelessly to keep the peace.”

“But they need our help. They need our continued support.”

In a televised address Wednesday night, Prime Minister Ariel Henry appealed to international “friends of Haiti” to help destroy the armed gangs he said had taken the country “hostage.”

Speaking at a Security Council meeting in late September, Haiti’s U.N. envoy Hélène La Lime said the renewed violence — five years after the departure of U.N. peacekeepers — is testing the Haitian police, which is receiving U.N. support to strengthen its capacity.

China has called for an embargo on the supply of small arms to groups in Haiti. The United States and Mexico, which drafted a resolution in July calling on states to ban small arms transfers, said they were working on new text.

A new meeting on Haiti is scheduled for October 21.

Haiti reports first cholera deaths in three years

© 2022 AFP

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