Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 25th 2014 Contents MIAMI---Haitian community advocates in South
Florida say the United Nations lack of response to
a lawsuit seeking compensation for cholera victims
in Haiti is part of a pattern of evading responsibility
for the outbreak.
The Haitian Lawyers Association and Haitian Women
of Miami filed a friend-of-the-court brief Friday in
federal court in Manhattan. The brief supports a motion
asking the court to affirm that the UN had been properly
served with the lawsuit filed in October.
"We ve tried for four months to serve the papers on
the UN, sending process servers to the United Nations
headquarters. When they get there, they re denied
access," said Beatrice Lindstrom, an attorney for the
Boston-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in
Haiti, which filed the lawsuit along with immigration
attorney Ira Kurzban s firm and the human rights group
Bureau des Avocats Internationaux.
The UN has told the plaintiffs to mail or fax the legal
documents, but it has not acknowledged receiving the
paperwork, she said.
"The UN actually hasn t said anything," Lindstrom
The lawsuit blames the UN for the cholera outbreak
that has killed thousands in Haiti. It says the UN spread
the disease when it contaminated Haiti s principal river
with cholera-infected human waste beginning in October
2010. The five Haitians and Haitian-Americans listed
as plaintiffs all had family members with cholera infec-
tions, some of whom died.
Some studies have shown that cholera may have
been introduced in Haiti by UN troops from Nepal,
where the disease is endemic.
According to data from the Pan-American Health
Organization and World Health Organization cited in
the brief filed Friday, cholera has sickened nearly 700,000
Haitians and killed more than 8,400 as of December
23.The two Florida-based advocacy groups represent
Haitian immigrants and Haitian-Americans, including
some whose relatives were affected by the outbreak in
their Caribbean homeland.
The UN s failure to acknowledge the lawsuit "is yet
another manifestation of its shirking of responsibility
for the cholera outbreak, one which this court should
declare an abuse of its rules relating to service of process,"
the groups wrote. They ask the court to grant the plain-
tiffs motion and demonstrate the urgency of the case.
Those whom we love don't go away, they
walk beside us everyday.
Unseen, unheard but always near, still loved,
still missed and very dear.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC---
The Christian militiamen know
hundreds of Muslims are hiding
here on the grounds of the Catholic
church and now they re giving them
a final ultimatum: Leave Central
African Republic within a week or
face death at the hands of machete-
Yesterday, some of the 30
Cameroonian peacekeepers fired into
the air to disperse angry militia fight-
ers congregated outside the concrete
walls of the church compound. The
gunfire sent traumatised children
running for cover and set off a chorus
of wails throughout the courtyard.
The peacekeepers are all that stand
between nearly 800 Muslims and
the armed gangs who want them
dead. Already the fighters known as
the anti-Balaka have brought 10 gal-
lons of gasoline and threatened to
burn the church to the ground.
Even the Rev Justin Nary, who
takes in more Muslims by the day,
knows he too is a marked man in
the eyes of anti-Balaka.
"Walking through town I ve had
guns pointed in my face four times,"
he says. "They call my phone and
say they ll kill me once the peace-
keepers are gone."
Some of those seeking refuge fled
from the village of Guen, about 62
miles away, after at least 70 Muslims
were killed there, according to the
Rev. Rigobert Dolongo who said he
helped bury the bodies.
Muslims and Christians lived
together in Carnot in relative peace
for generations until a Muslim rebel-
lion from the country s far north
overthrew the government and
unleashed total chaos. The rebels
known as Seleka were blamed for
scores of massacres on predomi-
nantly Christian villages across the
When they were forced from
power in January, it unleashed a wave
of violent vengeance against Muslims
throughout the anarchic nation. In
the capital, angry mobs killed and
mutilated anyone suspected of having
supported the Seleka. The Christian
militia known as the anti-Balaka
stormed Carnot in early February
when the Seleka fled.
The situation in the capital, Ban-
gui, appears to have stabilised some-
what, but the sectarian violence con-
tinues in the countryside.
Ahamat Mahamat, 41, narrowly
escaped death and his younger broth-
er was killed. Now he sits under the
shade of a tree on the church
grounds, his hand bandaged to cover
his healing machete wounds meted
by the Christian militia fighters.
Even as the brownish iodine oozes
through his bandages, he vows to
stay on in Carnot despite the threat
and wants to return to his job pho-
tographing Muslim and Christian
weddings. He himself is married to
a Christian, who has fled to the
church with him and their three chil-
"I was born here. I grew up here.
I have no problems with my neigh-
bors. They even come to visit me
here at the church and bring me
food and other help," he says.
Others here, though, bitterly recall
how the militiamen pillaged their
mosques, stealing their prayer mats
and setting their holy Qurans ablaze.
Marafa Abdulhamane, 73, wipes
tears from his eyes when he recalls
how they surrounded his home and
ordered him to leave under threat
of death. A native of Cameroon, he
has lived in Carnot for 50 years.
While some neighbors packed up
his things that remained and brought
them to him in a suitcase at the
church compound, he s made up his
mind to try and leave.
"My shop has been looted and
my home has been taken over by
Christians. Where will I go?" he
says. "They say they don t want us
wearing our traditional robes in town
or saying Allah Akbar anymore.
It s as though they don t want Mus-
lims or anything Islamic here any-
Now he sits near the steps of the
church with his friends, stroking
his prayer beads as the Catholic
priests prepare the area for Sunday
Mass. There is no longer a mosque
to pray at. No announcement of the
call to prayer. On the grounds of
the church, the men kneel on rice
sacks pointed toward Mecca and
whisper their prayers.
He and his friends laugh when
asked if they ever thought they
would live at a church. However,
they recognise the gravity of the
situation that now faces them.
"If it weren t for the church and
the peacekeepers, we d all be dead,"
says Mahmoud Laminou, who has
been here for two weeks.
As word spreads that the church
is under armed protection, more
arrive by the day.
On Monday, a truck with the
African peacekeeping force delivered
several Muslim families trapped
inside the town and unable to reach
the church except under armed
escort. Trembling women handed
their babies to people on the ground
as they got down from the truck.
In this photo taken on Sunday, Father Justin Nary, left, greets Ousmane
Mahamat, one of the 800 Muslims seeking refuge in a Catholic church in
Carnot a town 125 miles from the Cameroonian border, in, Central African
Republic. The Christian militiamen knew hundreds of Muslims were hiding
at the Catholic church and came with their ultimatum: Evict the families to
face certain death or else the entire place would be burned to the ground.
Muslims seek refuge
in Catholic church
Florida groups criticise UN over cholera lawsuit
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