On the Ground in Haiti, Ansel Herz Reports on a UN Clash with Students that Spilled into Camps

Posted on May 28, 2010

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Photo by Ansel Herz

Outside Haiti’s National Palace, U.N. Troops’ Clash with Frustrated Students Spills into Camps 25May2010

Published today by Inter-Press Service. (A much shorter version of this story aired earlier in the day during the headlines section of today’s FSRN newscast.) See updates below.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, May 25, 2010 (IPS) – United Nations peacekeeping troops responded to a rock-throwing demonstration by university students Monday evening with a barrage of tear gas and rubber bullets in the area around Haiti’s National Palace, sending masses of displaced Haitians running out of tent camps into the streets, according to witnesses.

“That child was gravely injured in the face! It was miserable, they were throwing gas everywhere,” said Junior Joel, a young man hanging with friends at night outside the palace – still partially collapsed from the January earthquake.

Three volunteer doctors from the NGO Partners in Health who were working in the emergency room of the General Hospital said they treated at least six individuals with wounds from rubber bullets.

“They were bleeding,” Sarah McMillan, a doctor from New Hampshire, told IPS. “There was a little girl with a big laceration on her face. It needed about 10 stitches. She’ll probably have a scar.”

The girl was discharged from the hospital and could not be found in the tent camp as of publication time.

Thousands of families are crowded into the public squares in the Champs du Mars zone around the palace, after the earthquake killed at least 200,000 people and drove nearly two million from destroyed neighbourhoods.

A coalition of political organisations called Tet Kole, Haitian Creole for “Heads Together”, has staged protests in the area for the past month, demanding the resignation of President René Préval over his handling of the post-earthquake crisis.

The walls of the Faculty of Ethnology school are dotted with graffiti denouncing Préval and the United Nations. Students said they gave Brazilian peacekeeping troops stationed in jeeps outside the campus the middle finger sign late Monday afternoon.

Continue reading at Anzel Herz’ site, Mediahacker.org