Monday, September 4, 2017

Hurricanes and Human Rights

We join with others in the nation and the world in mourning the loss of life and other serious impacts of the recent storms in South Texas and Louisiana. 

As the devastation of Harvey continues to come into focus, many are beginning to articulate concern about the short- and long-term human rights implications of the disaster.  As Colette Pichon Battle, E.D. of the U.S. Human Rights Network recently wrote, "we live in a changed climate with more intense and extreme weather events. We must prepare for the inevitable fight for human rights in the long process of recovery."

More than one decade later, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is widely viewed as a human rights disaster , where the governments' failed responses compounded the impacts of the initial flooding.  To avoid a similar outcome, we hope that the human rights lessons learned from Katrina will be incorporated into the ongoing response on the ground.  For example, the UN has developed (and the US has endorsed) Guiding Principles in Internal Displacement that can serve as a touchstone for policies to address the plight of the thousands displaced by Harvey. 

As communities in Houston and surrounding areas begin to address these impacts, it is particular important that funding reach communities that were already marginalized before the storm and that are likely to face even greater challenges now.  To help with this, Colorlines has published a short guide to charities and organizations assisting communities of color post-Harvey.  Additional resources focused on the most vulnerable are available from the National Low Income Housing Association.

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