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On 6 August, a unit of the 12, member United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Haiti Minustah based in the central plateau city of Hinche was caught dumping faeces and other waste in holes a few feet from a river where people bathe and drink.
After complaints by locals and an investigation by journalists, city officials burned the waste near the Guayamouc river. As is their wont, Minustah officials simply deny dumping sewage. Last week, the UN released a statement claiming they had no reason to dump waste since the base in Hinche built a treatment plant and sewage disposal on 15 June.
For anyone who has followed Minustah's operations this denial rings hollow. Ten months ago, reckless sewage disposal at the UN base near Mirebalais caused a devastating cholera outbreak pdf. In October , a new deployment of Nepalese troops brought the water-borne disease to Haiti that has left 6, dead and more than , ill.
The back story to this affair is that the waste company managing the base, Sanco Enterprises SA, disposed of faecal matter from the Nepalese troops in pits that seeped into the Artibonite River. Locals drank from the river, which is how the first Haitians became infected with cholera. Officials for the UN and the contractor have passed the blame back and forth: the former saying the contractor is responsible for the dump site; the latter saying the UN and a previous contractor established the "procedures" for waste management.
Despite a mountain of evidence collected from local and international researchers, the UN refuses to take responsibility for the cholera outbreak. A November investigation by prominent French epidemiologist, Renaud Piarroux, pointed to the Nepalese troops as the probable origin of the cholera strain, as did a study published by the journal of the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and an investigation by Nepalese, Danish and Americans researchers at the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Arizona.