New report on human rights and poverty in the Gulf Coast

Five years after Hurricane Katrina killed more than 1,800 people and destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes, the suffering continues. In New Orleans and throughout the Gulf Coast, there is a continued lack of access to housing and health care, and issues related to the criminal justice system persist. Communities displaced by the storms remain unable to rebuild and return to their homes.

Amnesty International released a new report, Un-Natural Disaster which documents the failure of local, state, and federal governments to protect the rights of poor and minority Gulf Coast residents in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The report makes specific proposals to improve federal response when a significant percent of a population is displaced, and to protect the rights of displaced people to access education, health care, housing, food, vocational training, and other public services.

Amnesty International is calling on the US Senate to amend the Stafford Act, a legislation that governs federal disaster response but fails to live up to the human rights standards outlined in the United Nations Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement. The Stafford Act must be strengthened to guarantee the rights of all people displaced by disasters.

Take action to urge Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana to introduce legislation to reform the Stafford Act.