UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is deeply concerned about the people in Haiti after the confirmation of new cholera cases in the island nation, a UN spokesman said on Monday.
Over the weekend, two cases of cholera were confirmed and multiple cases were suspected in Port-au-Prince, said Stephane Dujarric, the chief spokesman for Guterres. The United Nations is ready to deploy emergency response teams to support affected communities as soon as safe access is assured and fuel supplies are unblocked.
The global organization is particularly sensitive about cholera cases in Haiti. In 2010 about 9,700 people died from a cholera outbreak traced back to a base camp for UN peacekeepers from Nepal.
There is no indication the United Nations has any responsibility connected with the new confirmed or suspected cholera cases. There are no peacekeepers in Haiti, but there is the UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti, a political entity.
For weeks, civil unrest, including gang warfare, has crippled Haiti, particularly the capital, disrupting the flow of fuel and food for civilians.
"The secretary-general calls for immediate and unfettered access on the ground to facilitate the delivery of fuel for humanitarian purposes. Fuel deliveries have been blocked at the port since mid-September, which has disrupted not only the daily life of the Haitian people, but also the ability and the capacity of our colleagues on the ground and the international community to respond to a compounding crisis," said Dujarric.
The spokesman added that Guterres appeals to stakeholders to work together to ensure the gains made over the past 12 years in the fight against cholera are not eroded.
Dujarric noted that Haiti's National Public Health Laboratory confirmed the cholera cases on Saturday and Sunday. Around Port-au-Prince, additional victims are under investigation, including the death of eight people suspected of contracting cholera.
The spokesman said a cholera surveillance mechanism established by Haitian authorities and supported by the United Nations identified the cases.
UN personnel are monitoring the situation and supporting the government in mounting an emergency response to the potential outbreak, focusing on limiting the spread of the disease and informing the population on how to take immediate protective measures at the household level, he said.
"Our colleagues on the ground note that in the current context of social unrest and insecurity, it is imperative that these teams be guaranteed safe access to at-risk areas, including where cases have been confirmed or suspected, to help mitigate the risk of a large or disruptive outbreak of the disease," Dujarric said.