WASHINGTON – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights urged the United States on Thursday to immediately adopt measures to respond to the human rights problems in Puerto Rico, an island affected by the devastating passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in a statement urged the US to guarantee access to drinking water, lighting and electricity, food, medicine and general health care, and telecommunications.
“The Commission expresses its concern over information it has received indicating that the U.S. response to the situation in Puerto Rico has been slower and less efficient than to situations in other parts of the country,” it read.
The autonomous organ of the Organization of American States (OAS) recalled that Puerto Rico “is the territory with the highest rates of poverty and extreme poverty in the United States.”
IACHR also complained about the “lack of access, in practice, to humanitarian assistance offered to Puerto Rico by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA),” which, in many cases, has remained in the ports of San Juan “for the absence of a plan aimed to its effective distribution.”
Thus, the Commission calls on the US “to adopt immediate measures, without discrimination of any kind, to respond to the situation created by the hurricanes and ensure the effective exercise of human rights in Puerto Rico.”
“More than three months following the devastating passage of the hurricanes through Puerto Rico, we are deeply dismayed by the State of the United States’ lack of response to effectively protect the human rights of the Puerto Rican people,” the IACHR Rapporteur for the US, Commissioner Margarette May Macaulay, said.
“The State is duty-bound to adopt comprehensive measures to ensure that Puerto Ricans are treated the same as other U.S. citizens,” she added.
Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, leaving at least 64 dead, according to the official toll, although other sources suggested the toll to be over 1,000, the island’s electricity grid has been totally destroyed, leading to a tremendous humanitarian crisis and aggravating the current economic crisis.