United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Les Cayes, Haiti, on Saturday after U.N. trucks were looted near the area where his plane touched down, as tempers flared among families desperate for aid after Hurricane Matthew.
The Category 4 hurricane tore through Haiti on Oct. 4, killing about 1,000 people and leaving more than 1.4 million in need of humanitarian aid, including 175,000 made homeless. The storm also disrupted power, communications and transport links.
Tensions are high in Les Cayes and elsewhere in Haiti’s southwest region because help has yet to reach many families whose crops and water supplies were destroyed, increasing the risk of cholera and malnutrition.
A coordinator for the American wing of the World Health Organization said the U.N. base was shut down after looting of two World Food Programme food containers outside the base on Saturday.
Ban’s visit was a chance for the South Korean to burnish his legacy at the close of his final term at the end of this year. Ban’s tenure has been tarnished by rape allegations in Central African Republic and a cholera epidemic in Haiti, both blamed on U.N. peacekeepers.
Cholera has stalked the regions of Haiti affected by the hurricane, as towns dotting the coastline – many of which had not had the disease in months – have reported spikes in cholera cases and deaths. Many Haitians lack access to drinkable water after the storm.
Haiti had not had a documented cholera case until 2010, months after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake leveled much of the capital city of Port-au-Prince.
Multiple scientific studies have traced the outbreak to a base in Mirebalais used by Nepalese peacekeepers, about an hour outside of the capital, and the strain of cholera is virtually identical to one endemic in Nepal.
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