Since Monday the Minustah (UN mission to Haiti) has been attacked by civil groups who are accusing them of being responsible for the cholera in the country. The SOS schools have been forced to close, and only a few of the staff are able to work in the Village. Since Monday, an SOS vehicle has been stranded in the centre of Cap Haitien. For the moment we are discussing a strategy to enable us to buy food for the Village. Planned workshops have been postponed for security reasons.
For the moment the situation is calm. Thursday was a holiday in Haiti and it seems that the protests on the streets against UN forces and foreigners were more subdued. Without alarm, we passed the message to the colleagues to avoid movements outside the Village on Thursday.
The cholera situation in our facilities is under control. Only two cases of infected children from SOS Community Centres have been registered in Cap Haitian. Across the country, over 9,000 cases of cholera have been registered and nearly 600 people have died. The disease is currently present in half of Haiti’s 10 regions and its spread to the capital, which had been feared over the past few weeks, is now official. An estimated 2.5 million Haitians live in Port-au-Prince, 1.3 million of them in the tented camps set up for survivors of January’s earthquake. Their main concern at the moment is for Haitians living in areas without basic sanitation and where residents are forced to use contaminated water. The initial cases of cholera in the capital have happened in the slum area of Cite Soleil, a huge area of brick, wood and tin-roof shanties. Over 115 cases and one death have been reported at the local hospital there. Cite Soleil suffers from dire sanitary conditions. The shanty houses run alongside rubbish-clogged canals which are used as toilets by many of the slums’ inhabitants. Because of the area’s reputation for gang violence, only a small number of aid agencies operate here and supplies of soap and water purification tablets are limited.