PARIS – The cholera epidemic that has caused more than 2,000 deaths in Haiti was introduced by Nepalese troops serving with the U.N. forces in the impoverished Caribbean country, according to a French medical report, sources close to the probe told Efe on Tuesday.
The disease first appeared in the small central town of Mirebalais, where the Nepalese soldiers set up their camp, and it was first noted just a few days after their arrival, the sources said.
To date, the U.N. Stabilization Mission for Haiti, or Minustah, has denied that the epidemic was introduced by its forces.
But the report by Dr. Renaud Piarroux, who is considered to be one of the world’s leading specialists in the study of cholera, leaves no doubt as to the origin of the disease, sources said.
The French Foreign Ministry confirmed Tuesday that it transmitted the Piarroux report to U.N. headquarters in New York.
The study was commissioned by Paris at the request of Haitian authorities, a French diplomatic spokesman said.
According to the text, the appearance of the disease coincides with the arrival of the Nepalese soldiers, who come from a country where there is currently a cholera epidemic.
There is no other way to explain the rapid emergence and strength of the cholera outbreak in a small town with just a few dozen inhabitants, Piarroux and his team concluded.
The report also analyzes the manner of propagation of the disease, noting that wastewater from the Nepalese encampment drained into the same river from which the town’s residents draw their water for household use.
That watercourse also facilitated the wider spread of the epidemic, which so far has infected more than 90,000 people in Haiti, a country still struggling to recover from a Jan. 12 earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people and left a million homeless.
Minustah also sent an investigative team to the Nepalese camp which concluded that those soldiers could not be the source of the disease. EFE