Haitians banned from UN Ebola mission in Africa

The mosquito-borne virus chikungunya, which is currently sweeping the region, broke out in Haiti earlier this year and has since claimed tens of thousands of suspected cases.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Monday October 6, 2014 – After news appeared on social networks that the United Nations was recruiting volunteers to respond to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, authorities in Haiti sprang into action.

A statement released last week, signed by the ministers of health, interior and defence, effectively banned Haitian volunteers from travelling to Ebola-stricken countries in Africa.

Citing other diseases that have devastated the impoverished country in recent years, the ministers prohibited any agency – including the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) – from organising the recruitment of Haitian volunteers

The ministers appealed to “the common sense of every citizen to avoid other more dramatic situations than what we have experienced in the recent past.”

The October 2 statement was described as a “warning” by Minister of Defence Lener Renauld, who added: “It’s a question of public health and security to avoid any (Ebola) epidemic crisis happening in Haiti.”

This latest development follows a recommendation by the minister of health last month that all international agencies “suspend any rotation of members coming from countries where Ebola cases have been found.”

According to Health Minister Florence Duperval Guillaume, the announcement was made “to restore the confidence of our citizens.

“It may be much stronger than necessary, but think of those citizens who have been so traumatized, after the earthquake, after cholera, and after chikungunya. We cannot afford to take an additional trauma,” the minister said.

Cholera, which had not been documented in the French-speaking country for almost a century, hit Haiti in 2010, since when it has killed 8,500 people and infected more than 700,000. It may have been brought to Haiti by UN peacekeepers from Nepal, who were stationed there after the catastrophic earthquake.

The mosquito-borne virus chikungunya, which is currently sweeping the region, broke out in Haiti earlier this year and has since claimed tens of thousands of suspected cases.

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