Israelis head to Haiti to aid cholera victims

Over 420 infected and 284 dead; IsraAID team will assess current aid workers' progress, present findings to GA.

October 27, 2010 09:11
3 minute read.
Alan Schneider, a member of the IsraAID emergency

IsraAID 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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The Israel Forum for International Humanitarian Aid (IsraAID) announced on Wednesday that it will send send a team to Haiti, despite the current cholera outbreak.

The team will leave Israel on Thursday to assess the progress of IsraAID's programs in Haiti, as well as present its work in an exhibit using the IDF hopsital tent in the upcoming Jewish Federation General Assembly in New Orleans.

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They will also aid those affected by the cholera outbreak, which killed over 200 people and has reached the outskirts of Port au Prince.

IsraAID has been in Haiti since January 16, four days after the island was hit by an earthquake. The organization has provided including emergency emergency medical treatment, primary family medical care, medical rehabilitation, informal education, food production, and other services.

From Haiti, the team will continue on to New Orleans, where it will participate in the Jewish Federation's General Assembly. There, IsraAID will bring one of the IDF medical tents used after the earthquake. The tent was donated to IsraAID, and was truned into the first offiial school in the camps of Port au Prince. GA attendees will be able to see school items, as well as photos and video of the Israeli aid operation in Haiti.

Click for full Jpost coverage of the GA 2010

On Tuesday, protesters attacked a cholera treatment center as it was preparing to open in the city of St. Marc, highlighting the fear surrounding a disease that was almost unknown in Haiti before it began spreading through the countryside, aid workers said.

Some of the roughly 300 students and other protesters said they feared the Doctors Without Borders-Spain clinic would bring more of the disease to their seaside town, which is one of the hardest hit in the week-old epidemic that has killed 284 people and infected 3,769, according to United Nations figures.

Witnesses said the protesters threw rocks and at least one Molotov cocktail. UN peacekeepers from Argentina arrived with riot shields to reinforce police. Warning shots were heard; the UN said its soldiers fired blanks. There were no reports of injuries.

Haitian health officials assured the crowd the clinic would not open in that neighborhood.

Doctors Without Borders-Spain country chief Francisco Otero said the group had consulted with local authorities and told them the clinic is important for stemming the spread of cholera. He said they would try to reopen it in another part of St. Marc.

More than 420 new cholera cases were confirmed Tuesday, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Twenty-five new deaths were confirmed, bringing the total to 284.

Aid workers, meanwhile, scrambled to contain the spread of the disease, which has not occurred in Haiti for generations.

Speaker trucks passed through neighborhoods in the capital, where a handful of cases have been confirmed in people who apparently contracted it in the countryside, advising the city's millions of residents to wash their hands.

The Dominican Republic, which borders the central plateau where many new cases are being found, announced that all people crossing the border must wash hands and complete a medical form. They also stepped up military surveillance and closed a twice-weekly bi-national market on Monday, sparking protests on the Haitian side of the border.

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