Gustav coverage: Human rights group to document problems in federal response

More than 2 million Gulf Coast residents were evacuated from their homes as Hurricane Gustav barreled toward Louisiana and Texas. According to the US Human Rights Network, a coalition of more than 250 human rights groups, in the days following the hurricane, tens of thousands of those residents were subjected to violations of their basic human rights, including disparate and discriminatory treatment; inadequate provision of food, water and shelter; and failure to provide for a safe and timely return.

According to the USHRN:
  • Three years after the Hurricane Katrina debacle revealed major, systemic problems with federal, state and local government disaster relief policies, the official response to Hurricane Gustav proved that many of these the problems have yet to be addressed.
  • Under international human rights agreements to which the U.S. has subscribed, government has an obligation to protect the rights of people displaced by natural disasters. But federal and state policies conspire to undermine those rights.
  • The federal Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Act places the financial burden of disaster recovery and resettlement on the states without regard for their ability to cover the costs, which is especially problematic for less affluent Gulf Coast states.
The USHRN is making plans to launch it's Gulf Coast Human Rights Monitoring and Documentation Project to further collect and analyze information on the human rights implications of the Gustav response, monitor ongoing developments in the wake of Gustav and any future natural disasters, and report human rights violations and other relevant findings.