Still Waiting for Justice

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It has been five years since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. Sadly, five years later, devastation continues to manifest itself throughout the ravaged city. In May, Amnesty International released a new report detailing the numerous human rights violations suffered by the people of New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina struck land in 2005.

A centerpiece of the report is the demolition of public housing. Although necessary to demolish and rebuild severely damaged structures, the government has neglected to rebuild many of the buildings they have torn down. Amnesty International researcher Justin Mazzola, says, “You have the demolition of most of the public housing units in New Orleans without a one-for-one replacement as well as a lack of rebuilding affordable rental housing.”

The Road Home Program provides grant money to families who need to rebuild their homes. While this program is commendable in principal, Amnesty reports that the average Road Home applicant receives $35,000 less than what they need to adequately rebuild their home. Furthermore, “Amnesty International is concerned that the problems with the Road Home program may have led to the permanent displacement of many predominantly low income and African-American New Orleans residents.”

Human rights violations and inequities reach beyond housing concerns. The public education system and healthcare system are suffering from ill-funded civic institutions. Hospitals remain shuttered or completely destroyed and many schools have yet to reopen their doors. These issues in combination with the housing problems have prevented residents from moving back home to New Orleans. Those who do return are faced with inequities and insurmountable struggles.

Amnesty’s report also highlights a failed criminal justice system. Impoverished residents of New Orleans are suffering from both an overzealous law enforcement and a lack of legal resources. The injustices caused by these conditions have made crime in New Orleans a means of survival for many residents. The report quotes one man as saying, “Crime is economics… able-bodied people can’t get employed because of doing time and will need to do crime to survive.”

Although Amnesty International’s report painfully illuminates many atrocities in New Orleans, the report is also a symbol of hope. Amnesty is calling upon the United States government to amend the main disaster response legislation: the Stafford Act. The Boston Globe reports that Amnesty requests the act be amended “to guarantee the humane and fair treatment of all disaster victims, as stipulated by the United Nation’s Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement.”

 

For more information on Hurricane Katrina, please visit the Share section of Generation Pulse for personal accounts submitted by Genpulse users:

One Day at a Time

The Day My Life Changed

Hurricane Katrina

Temporary Shelter

My Katrina Experience

My Experience with Hurricane Katrina

The Weekend My Life Was Turned Upside Down

Time Forgotten

 

Featured picture was taken from user drp on www.flickr.com, which is permitted according to the Creative Commons liscence. The original picture can be found athttp://www.flickr.com/photos/drp/228254340/. (The following attribution was requested from United Nations Photos).

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/deed.en