Natalie Léger Palmer kindly sent us the press release below from Minustah, through which they seek to deny reports running rampant in Haiti that the cholera outbreak was caused by UN workers. Reports in Haiti indicate, as Natalie writes, that “several were seen disposing of human feces into the river contaminated river.” Whether the report is true or not, it is what people in Haiti believe, which can be ascertained by following the forum on Haitixchange, which can be contentious but it is often on the pulse of what is occurring in Haiti.
Hearing these reports MINUSTAH has respond with the following:
Port-au-Prince, October 25, 2010 – The UN Mission for Stabilization in Haiti (MINUSTAH) would like to shed light around rumors circulated in some media into believing that human waste spilled into a river by Mirebalais MINUSTAH would be the source of the cholera epidemic in Haiti.
A Nepalese military contingent is actually based in Mirebalais, in the resort of Meille the banks of the river bearing the same name. September septic tanks, constructed in closed circuit, serving the military base and meet the construction standards of the Agency for Environmental Protection (EPA).
These septic tanks are emptied each week by four trucks from a private company contracts. The landfill site used by the company obtained permission from the mayor of Mirebalais. It is 250 meters from the river Meille, which represents more than 20 times the distance required at international level.
In addition, MINUSTAH has a unit responsible for environmental compliance, which periodically check the management of all waste from the Mission is consistent with international standards established.
MINUSTAH continue its investigations in order to ensure strict compliance of its standards by all its entities.
People still are quite skeptical, Natalie reports, particularly in light of past abuses by this particular contingent of UN workers. Needless to say, people are fuming.
You can follow the discussion at HaitiXchange at http://www.haitixchange.com/index.php/forums/viewthread/5632/
Our thanks to Natalie for this information.