Amid reports that the UN is investigating Indian peacekeepers deployed in Haiti without the mandatory cholera vaccination, the Secretary General’s spokesperson said the world body relies on troop contributing country to certify that peacekeepers meet medical requirements for deployment and wants more information from India on it. “We’ve seen the story on the Indian peacekeepers. We’re, obviously, looking into it,” Spokesman for the Secretary-General Stephane Dujarric told reporters at the daily press briefing yesterday when asked about the media report which said Indian peacekeepers in Haiti are facing a probe by the world body for not receiving mandatory cholera vaccination before arriving in the Caribbean country.
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Dujarric added that “as a matter of principle, we rely on the country of origin of the peacekeepers to present us and to certify that they meet all the medical requirements for deployment in the area, which, in the case of Haiti, would, obviously, include the vaccine against cholera. But, I have no way at this point to verify…to comment on the veracity of the report.” When asked if the world body has ordered an investigation, Dujarric said the UN is looking into the matter.
On whether there has been communication between the UN and the Indian government over the matter, Dujarric said, “we’re trying to get more information, obviously, from the Indian authorities.” India’s Permanent Mission to the UN said it did not have a comment on the issue. Nearly 140 Indian soldiers, who are part of UN peacekeeping force in Haiti, will be administered cholera vaccine after the UN reportedly ordered a probe on how they had landed in the Caribbean country without the mandatory vaccination.
Haiti has been grappling with a cholera outbreak and the UN has been part of massive effort to contain the disease. The Indian soldiers had landed in Haiti in August last year and reportedly India had certified that they were administered the cholera vaccine. Haiti has been dealing with a cholera outbreak since October 2010, some nine months after it suffered a devastating earthquake. The outbreak has affected an estimated 788,000 people and claimed the lives of more than 9,000.
Concerted national and international efforts, backed by the United Nations, have resulted in a 90 per cent reduction in the number of suspected cases. The then UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had last year apologised to the people of Haiti for the world body’s role in failing to properly address the cholera epidemic. In addition, he had announced a USD 400 million two-track plan to stem the outbreak and provide long-term support for those affected.