International panel to investigate source of cholera outbreak in Haiti

The United Nations is to name an international panel to investigate Haiti’s cholera epidemic, which many in the Caribbean nation have blamed on Nepalese peacekeepers, AGence France Presse reportsa top official said yesterday.

Alain LeRoy, head of the UN peacekeeping department, said the UN had asked the World Health Organization to find the best experts to pinpoint the source of the epidemic that has killed at least 2,200 people and caused anti-UN riots. “The source of this outbreak has been critically important for us,” LeRoy said, insisting that the UN mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH, has been “totally transparent” over the cholera source.

“There have been multiple reports,” he said. “There has been no consensus among the scientists.”

One top French epidemiologist has said the Nepalese camp at Mirebalais in central Haiti was the source of the outbreak. Other experts have said the strain was of South Asian origin.

LeRoy said other experts had speculated that weather conditions could be to blame or that the bacteria had been laying dormant for many years.

The expert panel was to be formally announced yesterday by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

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