US Human Rights Network Condemns Federal Government’s Move to Repossess Trailers and Leave Thousands Homeless
Atlanta, May 29, 2009 - In response to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s decision to repossess temporary housing from survivors of Hurricane Katrina on June 1, the US Human Rights Network issued the following statement:
The move by FEMA to enforce the June 1st eviction date for Gulf Region residents who live in temporary trailers not only lacks basic compassion but is also a derogation of the government’s responsibilities to uphold fundamental human rights. If FEMA moves forward with the Bush administration's plan to forcefully evict people living in temporary housing, it will make a mockery of the Gulf Region recovery promised by President Obama and Congress.
Earnest Hammond is a 70 year-old retired truck driver who received no assistance after Hurricane Katrina destroyed his home. He took matters into his own hands and by collecting aluminum cans, raised thousands of dollars to repair his badly damaged house. He is eager to move back but can’t restore his home by the June 1st deadline, and is facing eviction. “I have nowhere to go if they take my trailer. It’s hard to believe I have to go through this again.”
Instead of carrying out the former administration’s callous plan for eviction, the Obama administration and Congress should apply the United Nations’ Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, a human rights policy that, for several years, has guided our government in providing temporary and permanent homes for people in foreign countries who become displaced by earthquakes, typhoons, and flooding.
Ajamu Baraka, Executive Director of the US Human Rights Network, said: “Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently announced that our government will be applying the human rights policy that governs internally displaced people to the homeless in Afghanistan. It is unconscionable to hold our own population to a lower standard and subject displaced Americans to evictions before permanent housing has been secured.”
Hurricane Katrina displaced over a million people, many of whom have yet to fully recover as a result of the government’s failure to honor the UN Guiding Principles and human rights treaties ratified in the US. Gulf Region residents, both renters and homeowners, have worked tirelessly to access safe, permanent housing and should have the support that our government provides under basic standards of human rights law.
CONTACT: Riptide Communications, Inc. (212) 260-5000 or Ajamu Baraka (404) 588-9761 (after 2pm on May 29)
The US Human Rights Network is made up of more than 250 organizations and over a thousand individuals working to bring the United States into compliance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other internationally recognized human rights instruments by applying the standards and principles within those instruments to domestic and foreign policy priorities. To learn more about USHRN, please visit: www.ushrnetwork.org