Monday, August 30, 2021
Yesterday, on August 29, 2021, Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana sixteen years to the day after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. My heart is with Louisiana and Mississippi, and all of those dealing with loss and heartbreak in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
While it is too soon to know the extent of the destruction wrought by Ida, it is clear that many residents on the Gulf Coast will once again be displaced. In 2006, the U.N. Human Rights Committee addressed internal displacement and discrimination in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the levee failures of 2005. In its Concluding Observations (see paragraph 26) after its periodic review of the United States in 2006, the Human Rights Committee stated that the United States should:
- Ensure the full implementation of the obligation to protect life and prohibit discrimination, whether direct or indirect;
- Ensure the full implementation of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement; and
- Increase efforts to ensure that the rights of the poor, and in particular African Americans, are fully taken into consideration in the reconstruction plans with regard to access to housing, education and healthcare.
I hope that the U.S. Government, state governments, and local governments trying to figure out how to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Ida will use these important human rights directives to guide reconstruction and to ensure the full implementation of human rights protections for all Gulf Coast residents, including internally replaced residents.