INSTITUTO DE SALUD MENTAL, APOYO
PSICOSOCIAL Y ASISTENCIA LEGAL
Joseph O. Prewitt Diaz, PhD
This is a talking document formulated with
the intent of generating a discussion between the School of Law and the
College of Social Sciences of the Universidad of Puerto Rico. The focus is
on developing a mechanism that will provide services to disaster affected
people while at the same time safeguarding there human and legal rights.
Environmental changes dictate that IHE’s stay at the forefront of
societal events, and assume leadership, as necessary, to alleviate human
suffering, by modifying the curriculum or identifying cross cutting
opportunities. The need for a
humanitarian response to local and regional disasters has led to a discernment
process that resulted in the identification of psychosocial support programs
after a disaster as the organizational focal point of all actions and processes
developed during disaster response, from immediate response to reconstruction. Psychosocial
support serves as the platform for social and psychological stabilization of
the affected people as well as the socioeconomic re-establishment of the
Disaster and disaster response
Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Puerto Rico are not
unfamiliar to natural and manmade disasters. In the last ten years the region
has experienced hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and manmade technological
disasters that cost an estimated 50,000 deaths, over 5 million people injured
Central America and South America
The flooding in Venezuela initiated the 21st
century with mud slides that caused an approximate loss of 30,000 people, and
at least one million of affected and displaced survivors. This natural event
was followed by mud slides in Las Casitas, Nicaragua, and floods in San Pedro
Sula, Honduras, the Atlantic zone of Nicaragua and Belize as a result of
tropical storms and hurricanes. The
earthquakes in El Salvador in 2002 left over 30% of the country’s population
displaced, caused the destruction of infrastructure (schools, hospitals, and
other support systems).
The Caribbean is victimized yearly by tropical storms and hurricanes
that impact the lesser and larger Antilles. Floods, high winds, and limited
infra structure cause destruction and increases the levels of distress in the
affected Islands. One such disaster is the recent earthquake in Haiti.
Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital was leveled by a huge earthquake January 12,
2010. Haiti’s government ceased to function. Its infrastructure was
devastated, thus confounding relief agencies that have tried to set up distribution
centers. The Haitian Directorate for Civil Protection (DCP) has estimated that
the earthquake resulted in 75,000 persons killed, 200,000 injured and one
million displaced. Approximately half of all structures in Port-au-Prince are
believed to have collapsed. IOM estimates that there are
more than 300 makeshift settlements scattered throughout the city, with an
estimated 370,000 inhabitants. This is a humanitarian crisis of major
proportion at our door steps.
Puerto Rico has not been left untouched. In the last two years there
were floods and mud slides in thirteen towns in the East Southeast of the
Island that displaced hundreds of families and disrupted essential services.
Several months ago the explosion of an abandoned refinery and storage area near
San Juan caused hundreds of displaced families, damages to homes and the
environment estimated in the millions of dollars, and countless disruptions in
the daily life’s of the affected people that resulted in an increase in
understanding of place setting is one of the most important factors in
attempting to devise a psychosocial support program for disaster affected
people. Morgan (2009) indicates that when a person feels a right to be in
certain place than attachment begins to form even if the person is not
physically in the place. It is just the subjective feeling of place which sets
off attachment for a given place. The feeling of place involves three factors:
(1) freedom of action in the place, (2) social interaction with others in
place, and (3) continuity of living in the same place (Morgan, 2009).
Place based psychosocial support (PBPS) (Prewitt Diaz and Dayal, 2007,
Prewitt Diaz (2008), Prewitt Diaz (2008)
is concerned with assisting persons affected by a disaster in a
particular place or micro-community to identify collective coping mechanism
that allows the affected people within place, to provide care and safety for each other until such time as
the “place” has been re-established.
During the initial steps of PBPS explores with the affected people their
sense of “place”, attractions to “place”, and the degree of interaction with
each other. As time goes by the affected people prepare a conceptual map—that
serves to identify the affected persons to themselves and to outsiders. The
affected people define and redefine the levels of belongingness, quality of
life, friendliness, and care of the placed (Puddifoot, 1996). The
orientation of the group may be problem-focused or relationship-focused.
PBPS promotes collaborative coping mechanisms such as solution focused
activities and community problem solving. Lazarus
& Folkman (1984) define coping as “constantly changing cognitive and
behavioral efforts to manage specific external and/or internal demands that are
appraised as taxing or exceeding the resources of the person” (p. 141). Coping
is framed as process oriented activities, that allow the affect people
individually and collectively to manage the effects of the stressor (hurricane,
floods, or explosions) in their perception of community and well being, and
allows them to master their environment.
Communal coping occurs when one or more affected persons perceive a
stressor as “our” problem appraisal as opposed to “my” problem and activates a
process of shared coping (Manzo & Perkins, 2006). In the context of a major disaster, coping is defined functionally as the
pooling of psychological, social, spiritual, physical and environmental
resources of individuals, couples, families, neighborhoods, and communitites to
master, tolerate, reduce, or minimize stressful events and develop
resiliency for future events.
PBPS fosters activities where affected people are thinking and acting as
though the stressor is shared. PBPS believes when affect people in a particular
place deal with particular problem is beneficial, necessary and expected. PBPS encourages communication about the
circumstances and meaning of the situation, that currently affects the group,
how it relates to the group and what is the potential impact. The affected people collaborate to
construct strategies that are aimed at reducing the negative impact of the
stressor and to develop strategies to resolve the adaptational demands of the
event on the place.
PBPS activities are oriented toward expanding affected peoples’
resources and capacity for dealing with stressors, provide the mechanism to
mobilize community resource to reduce losses, enhance psychological and social
support and buffer stress. As a result of the activities and community
participation group cohesion, and reciprocal altruism is increased.
As the affected people become more confident in using the collaborative
processes, such as mutual support,
collective actions to meet challenges, a high level of member participation in
problem-solving, and a high percentage of volunteers (Prewitt Diaz, 2008b)
impact an increase in a feeling of well being and community’s quality of life
improves. Behavior that is
directed toward increasing the well being of others is encouraged and rewarded.
PBPS activities are more prevalent in cultures that emphasize and
promote a sense of place (high-trust, group-oriented). Trust is reflected in
the nature of a culture’s communal or group problem-solving activity. Events that simultaneously affect a
whole community (explosion, Hurricane) may induce the community to band
together in their coping. At the outside PBPS requires an assessment of the
relationship between affected people about the nature of the relationships
within community members. The issue is whether the individual and the community
perceive the stressor in the same way.
In summary, PBPS is a program that looks at the complex process of
situational, contextual, intrapersonal and interpersonal factors. Assist the
affected people to define their collective stressor, devise strategies to address
the stressor and foster a resolution that encourages the well being of the
affected people (See Appendix A).
Legal Standard for disaster response
When disaster strikes, affected people are often
approached by many groups who identify themselves as stakeholders (national
governments, the United Nations personnel, Red Cross and Red Crescent,
international non-governmental official, faith based organizational
representatives and the media to mention a few). If you or a family member has been involved in a mass
disaster, individuals from any or all of the above categories may want to speak
with you because they “are there to help”. Preserving personal and communal
legal rights may depend upon your ability to identify those groups seeking your
attention and to deal with them appropriately. Emotional distress and grief are
inevitable after a catastrophic event, and this emotional condition may greatly
affect the individual and communal initial ability to deal with their legal
rights. Conversely, the individuals identified in the categories listed
previously usually possess extensive training for dealing with a catastrophic
disaster of this nature. It is important for the affected people not to assume
any individual group is looking out for their best interests. It is important to realize that these
groups respond to disaster based on the mandates of the funders.
Human rights are the legal underpinning of
all humanitarian work pertaining to natural disasters. There is no other legal
framework to guide such activities, especially in areas where there is no armed
conflict. If humanitarian assistance is not based on a human rights framework,
it risks having too narrow a focus, and cannot integrate all the basic needs of
the victims into a holistic planning process. It risks overlooking factors that
will be important for recovery and reconstruction later on. Furthermore,
neglecting the human rights of those affected by natural disasters effectively
means not taking into account that such people do not live in a legal vacuum,
but in countries with laws, rules and institutions that should protect their
rights (See Appendix D below).
An excellent psychosocial program
introduces interventions based on the rights of the disaster affected people.
There are at least six areas of accountability (See Appendix B) that must be
considered: (1) accountability commitments are made to disaster survivors, (2)
transparency and information sharing, (3) participation and informed consent,
(4) staff competencies, (5) feedback/complaint handling system, and (6)
There are at least four sources
that must be considered in the development of services for disaster affected
persons: (1) the legal
underpinning of the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster
Response (See Appendix C for reference on legal documents), (2) the
international guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency
Settings, (3) Minimum standards for education in Emergencies, chronic crises
and Early Reconstruction, and (4) the Humanitarian Accountability Partnership.
These sources inform the linkage between psychosocial needs of the affected
people, their legal rights and the combination of both to achieve resilience
and move on.
The appropriate amount of services to
which you are entitled and the appropriate time to discuss the types of
programs that will be undertaken by your community may be best answered by a lawyer who is
knowledgeable with international humanitarian assistance laws and the legal
implications of such assistance. The purpose of consulting with an advocate is
to help you preserve your legal rights until you are prepared to make an
informed decision based on all of the circumstances and unburdened by the
emotional trauma and stress imposed upon you by the events of the disaster.
In summary, if your community is affected
by a major disaster, you will probably need the services of the mental health
and psychosocial personnel as well as the advice of an advocate. It is the
affected people decision when to select an attorney to inform the community’s
legal rights. It is the responsibility of the national and international
stakeholders to make you aware of your rights as member of the affected people.
Bibliography and References
HAP (2008). Emergency Check List: Humanitarian Accountability Partnership
Geneva, Switzerland. Humanitarian Accountability Partnership.
Inter-Agency Network for Education in
Emergencies (INEE). (2004). Minimum Standards
for Education in Emergencies, Chronic Crises, and Early Reconstruction
Paris, France. UNESCO.
IASC (2006). IASC Operational Guidelines on Human Rights and Natural Disasters
Geneva, Switzerland. Inter-Agency Standing Committee.
IASC (2007). IASC guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in emergency
. Geneva, Switzerland. Inter-Agency Standing Committee.
Lazarus, R.S. & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, appraisal and coping
. New York: Springer Publishing
Manzo, L.C. & Perkins, D.D. (2006).
Finding common ground: The importance of place attachment to community
participation and planning. Journal of
. 20(4), 335-350.
Morgan, P. (2009).
Towards a developmental
theory of place attachment. Journal of
, 29(1), 47-61.
Save the Children UK (2003). Toolkits: A practical guide to planning,
monitoring and impact assessment.
London, United Kingdom. The Save the
SPHERE Project (2004). Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response
Switzerland. The SPHERE Project & Steering Committee for Humanitarian
Disaster Mental Health, Psychosocial Support, and legal needs for Haitian
Populations in the United States
Dr. Joseph O. Prewitt Diaz
1. Conduct an assessment within the Haitian
communities (i.e. Little Haiti in Miami).
community meetings (DMH, Pastoral Care and community outreach person).
needs as defined by the members of the community.
protective factors within the respective communities in the States.
persons from the Haitian Diaspora that may be able to rotate into Haiti and
provide psychological support. (Functional knowledge on psychosocial needs,
problems and available resources to everyone working at each level of
human and legal rights of the affected persons.
2. Prepare a strategic, comprehensive, timely,
and realistic plan for training.
Orientation sessions on community assessment, and participatory processes.
person from the Haitian community to provide Psychological First Aid.
for rapid culturally appropriate needs, problems, and resources assessment.
learning methodologies that facilitate the immediate and practical applications
of learning (Due to high degree of illiteracy ---Posters, brochures and
pamphlets with pictures).
support to children and youth that have been relocated to the United States.
and traditional methods of self care.
3. Training for religious and community
the role and capacity to engage in constructive involvement that minimizes
distress by promoting resilience and hope.
culturally appropriate ways of making peace with and managing feelings of loss.
peace with the dead and appropriate methods of grieving.
4. Training for teachers and other school
officials in the receiving areas
the role of education and schools as a psychosocial intervention.
and when to use Psychological First Aid
of prevention (including how to work with and mobilize communities and their
up safe spaces for children and adolescent including informal school
of maintaining families and communities and minimizing institutional placement
5. Training for legal advocates
and become conversant on the role of advocates in protecting human rights and
legal rights of disaster affected persons (IASC Operational Guidelines on Human
Rights and Natural Disasters).
strategies to provide training in legal rights and humanitarian rights as they
relate to program development.
that affected people participate and are able to ascertain accountability for
commitments made by external stakeholders.
the value of participatory planning, monitoring and evaluation, feedback and
complaint handling systems for the disaster affected communities.
6. Develop interventions with recent arrivals
and people from receiving communities to increase resilience and hope.
to design and the skills to implement intervention in accordance with the needs
identified by community members.
community facilitation and mobilization skills.
Instruments inform the Humanitarian Charter and the Minimum Standards in
Declaration of Human Rights 1948.
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966.
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 1966.
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial
four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their two Additional
relating to the Status of Refugees 1951 and the Protocol
to the Status of Refugees 1967.
against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading
or Punishment 1984.
on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of
on the Rights of the Child 1989.
on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against
relating to the Status of Stateless Persons 1960.
Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement 1998.
OPERATIONAL GUIDELINES ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND NATURAL DISASTERS
I. Persons affected by natural disasters should enjoy the same rights
and freedoms under human rights law as others in their country and not be
Targeted measures to address assistance and protection needs of specific
categories of affected populations do not constitute discrimination if and to
the extent that they are based on differing needs.
II. States have the primary duty and responsibility to provide
assistance to persons affected by natural disasters and to protect their human
III. Organizations providing protection and assistance to persons
affected by natural disasters accept that human rights underpin all
humanitarian action. In situations of natural disaster they should therefore
respect the human rights of persons affected by disasters at all times and
advocate for their promotion and protection to the furthest extent.
Humanitarian organizations shall not promote, actively participate in, or in
any other manner contribute to, or endorse policies or activities, which do or can
lead to human rights violations by States. They shall strive to enable the affected
people to exercise their own rights.
IV. Organizations providing protection and assistance in situations of
natural disasters shall be guided by these Operational Guidelines in all of
their activities, in particular when monitoring and assessing the situation and
needs of affected persons, when programming and implementing their own
activities as well as when entering into a dialogue with governmental
authorities on their duties and responsibilities under international human
rights and, where applicable international humanitarian and refugee law. In
doing so, they shall remain accountable to all their relevant stakeholders, in
particular to the persons affected by the natural disaster.
V. All communities affected by the natural disaster should be
meaningfully consulted and given the opportunity to take charge of their own
affairs to the extent possible and to participate in the planning and
implementation of the various stages of the disaster response. They are
entitled to accessible information concerning the (i) the nature and level of
disaster they are facing; (ii) the possible risk mitigation measures that can
be taken; (iii) early warning information and (iv) information on ongoing humanitarian
assistance, recovery efforts and their respective entitlements.
VI. These Operational Guidelines seek to improve the practical
implementation of international instruments protecting human rights. They shall
not be interpreted as restricting, modifying or impairing the provisions of
international human rights or, where applicable, international humanitarian and
refugee law, and they should be applied together with other relevant Codes of
Conducts, Guidelines and Manuals.
VII. Organizations providing protection and assistance in situations of
natural disasters shall endeavor to have adequate mechanisms established to
ensure that the Operational Guidelines are applied and that the human rights of
the affected are protected.
A. PROTECTION OF LIFE,
SECURITY OF THE PERSON, PHYSICAL INTEGRITY AND DIGNITY
relocations and other life-saving measures
A.1.1 If an imminent natural disaster creates a serious risk for the
life, physical integrity or health of affected individuals and communities, all
appropriate measures necessary, such as emergency shelter arrangements, to
protect those in danger, including in particular vulnerable groups should be
taken to the extent possible.
A.1.2 If such measures would be insufficient, endangered persons should
be allowed, and assisted to leave the danger zone or, to the extent that they
cannot do so on their own, be evacuated from it by using all available means.
A.1.3 These evacuations should be carried out in a manner that fully
respects the right to life, dignity, liberty and security of those affected,
and measures be taken to safeguard homes and common assets left behind.
Evacuated persons should be registered and their evacuation monitored.
A.1.4 When the natural disaster has occurred, persons affected by it
should be allowed to move to other parts of the country and to settle there.
This right may not be subject to any restrictions except those which are
provided by law, and are necessary to protect national security, the safety and
security of affected populations, public order (ordre public), public health or
the rights and freedoms of others.
A.1.5 Persons, including evacuees who have been ordered or forced or
ordered to flee or to leave their homes or places of habitual residences as
result of a natural disaster or its effects, or have left in order to avoid
them, and have not crossed a an internationally recognized State border should
be treated as belonging to the category of internally displaced persons as
covered by the 1998 Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement.
A.1.6 After the emergency phase, persons displaced by the natural
disaster should be granted the opportunity to freely choose whether they want
to return to their homes and places of origin, remain in the area where they
have been displaced to, or to resettle to another part of the country. Their
right of choice may not be subjected to any restrictions except those which are
provided by law, and are necessary to protect national security, the safety and
security of affected populations, public order (ordre public), safety, public
health or morals or the rights and freedoms of others. In particular, the
return of persons displaced by the disaster to their homes and places of origin
should only be prohibited if these homes or places of origin are situated in
zones that present real dangers for the affected persons’ life or physical integrity
and health. These restrictions should last no longer than such dangers exist
and only be implemented if other, less intrusive, measures of protection are not
available or possible.
A.1.7 Persons affected by the natural disaster should not, under any
circumstances, be forced to return to or resettle in any place where their
life, safety, liberty and/or health would be at further risk.
A.1.8 Unless it is necessary for the protection of such persons against
very serious and imminent threats to their lives, their physical integrity or
health, evacuations against the will of such persons or the prohibitions of
their return should not be supported by organizations providing protection and
assistance to persons affected by natural disasters, even if they have been
ordered by the competent authorities. Such organizations should not become
involved in such evacuations in any manner.
A.1.9: Persons affected by natural disasters, displaced or not, should
be protected against the dangers of potential secondary hazards and other
A.2 Protection against
violence, including gender-based violence
A.2.1 During and after the emergency phase, law enforcement personnel
and local authorities should be encouraged to take effective measures to ensure
the security of populations affected by the natural disaster.
A.2.2 Mechanisms which are appropriate to address instances of violence
and other violations of human rights, as well as of the guarantees under
international humanitarian law, should be established without delay. In
particular, the deployment of law enforcement personnel to areas at risk of or
with a breakdown of law and order, including sexual and gender-based violence,
robberies, or looting should be requested.
A.2.3 Appropriate measures should be taken as early and as quickly as
possible to protect affected populations, in particular women and boy and girl
children, against trafficking, forced labor and contemporary forms of slavery
such as sale into marriage, forced prostitution, and sexual exploitation.
A.2.4 Should the natural disaster have occurred in a country with an
armed conflict, appropriate measures should be taken as soon as possible to
ensure that children affected by it are protected against being recruited or
associated with armed forces or groups.
A.3.1 Persons displaced by the disaster should, to the extent possible,
be provided with the means to recover as quickly as possible and become
self-sustainable (even in places of temporary displacement) or with fast
rehabilitation assistance for return. Camps are a last resort and should only
be established where, and until, such possibilities do not exist.
A.3.2 The location and lay-out of camps and settlements for persons
displaced by the disaster should be located in low natural hazard risk areas
and designed so as to maximize the security and protection of displaced
persons, including women and others those whose physical security is most at
risk, such as children, older persons, disabled, single-headed households and
members of religious and ethnic minority groups or indigenous peoples.
A.3.3 Security should be provided in camps, in particular by monitoring,
through law enforcement personnel and camp committees drawn from among the
displaced communities, the security situation. Appropriate mechanisms to
address instances of violence and other violations of the human rights of camp
residents should be established.
A.3.4 Persons affected by the disaster should be allowed to move freely
in and out of camps, and such movement should not be restricted or prohibited
unless it is necessary for the protection of the security or health of its residents,
or that of the population in its vicinity. In this case, such restrictions
should not remain in force any longer than absolutely necessary.
A.3.5 In order to maintain the civilian character of camps at all times,
appropriate measures should be taken to avoid the presence of uncontrolled
armed elements in camps and settlements. Where such elements are present, they
should be separated from the civilian population in the camp. The presence of
armed State police or security forces should be limited to the extent strictly
necessary to provide security.
A.3.6 Once the immediate emergency phase is over, camps set up by armed
forces or groups should be managed by civilian authorities or organizations,
and the role of police and security forces should be limited to providing
security, where needed, logistical support, and the provision of goods and
services such as food, shelter and health.
A.4 Protection against
anti-personnel landmines and other explosive devices
A.4.1 Access for specialized organizations should be facilitated, so
that appropriate measures including information and awareness campaigns and
fencing off and marking relevant areas can be taken by specialized
organizations as soon as possible to protect persons affected by natural disasters,
displaced or not, against the dangers of anti-personnel landmines and other
explosive ordnance that may have been dislodged, concealed or obscured in the
course of the natural disaster.
B. PROTECTION OF RIGHTS
RELATED TO BASIC NECESSITIES OF LIFE
B.1 Access to goods and
services, and humanitarian action
B.1.1 Measures should be taken to ensure that persons affected by
natural disasters, in particularly those displaced, have unimpeded and
non-discriminatory access to goods and services necessary for address their
B.1.2 Humanitarian action should be based on assessed need and provided
to all persons affected by the natural disaster without adverse distinction of
any kind other than that of differing needs.
B.1.3 Safe and non-discriminatory access to available humanitarian
assistance should be secured for all persons in need. In particular, measures
should be taken to grant priority access to vulnerable groups such as
minorities, single-headed households, elderly, people with disabilities and
unaccompanied and separated children.
B.1.4 International humanitarian organizations and other appropriate
actors should offer their services in support of persons affected by natural
disasters and in need of humanitarian assistance, in particular when
authorities concerned are unable or unwilling to provide the required
B.1.5 Humanitarian action should be carried out in accordance with the
principles of humanity, impartiality and, in countries with armed conflict,
neutrality. Such assistance should not be diverted.
B.1.6 International organizations and agencies and other actors
providing humanitarian assistance should ensure coordination of their actions
among themselves and with national and local authorities, taking into account
the responsibilities for certain areas of activities assigned to
specific agencies and organizations.
B.2 Provision of
adequate food, water and sanitation, shelter, clothing and essential
B.2.1 During and after the emergency phase of the disaster, adequate
food, water and sanitation, shelter, clothing, and essential health services
should be provided to persons affected by natural disasters who are in need of
these goods and services without any discrimination of any kind as to race,
color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social
origin, property, birth, age, disability or other status. Adequacy of these
goods and services means that they are (i) available, (ii) accessible, (iii)
acceptable, and (iv) adaptable:
Availability signifies that these goods and services are made available to the affected
population in sufficient quantity and quality;
Accessibility requires that these goods and services (1) are granted without discrimination
to all in need, (2) are within safe reach and can be physically accessed by
everyone, including vulnerable and marginalized groups, and (3) are known to
Acceptability refers to the need to provide goods and services that are culturally
appropriate and sensitive to gender and age;
(iv) Adaptability entails that these goods
and services are provided in ways flexible enough to adapt to the change of
needs in the different phases of emergency relief, reconstruction and, in the
case of displaced persons, return.
During the immediate emergency phase, food, water, shelter, clothing,
health services and sanitation are considered adequate if they ensure survival
to all in need of them.
B.2.2 If food, water and sanitation, shelter, clothing, and health
services are not available in sufficient quantities, they should be provided
first to those most in need. The definition of need should be based and
assessed on non-discriminatory and objective criteria.
B.2.3 If the host population, which has not been directly affected by
the natural disaster, suffers from similar shortages of water and sanitation,
shelter, clothing, and essential health services as the those affected by the
natural disaster, relief should be provided to it on an equitable basis as
B.2.4 The right to shelter should be understood as the right to live
somewhere in security, peace and dignity. These criteria should be used as
benchmarks in planning and implementing shelter programs, taking into account
the different circumstances during and after the emergency phase.
B.2.5 Those affected by the natural disaster should be given access to
psychosocial assistance and social services, when necessary. Special attention
should be given to the health needs of women, including provisions of
appropriate clothing and hygienic supplies, access to female health care
providers and services, such as reproductive health care, as well as
psychosocial care for victims of sexual and other abuses.
B.2.6 Special attention should also be given to the prevention of
contagious and infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS, among the affected
population, particularly among those displaced by the disaster.
C. PROTECTION OF OTHER
ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS
C.1.1 The return of children, whether displaced or not, to schooling
should be facilitated as early and as quickly as possible after the disaster.
Education should respect their cultural identity, language and tradition.
C.1.2 Education should be compulsory and free at the primary level.
Measures should be taken to ensure that education is not disrupted at higher
levels when students, as a consequence of the disaster, can no longer afford
C.1.3 Special efforts should be made to ensure the full and equal
participation of women and girls affected by the natural disaster in
C.2 Property and
C.2.1 Competent authorities should be requested to protect, to the
extent possible, property and possessions left behind by persons or communities
displaced by the natural disaster, against looting, destruction, and arbitrary
or illegal appropriation, occupation or use.
C.2.2 Unused private property and possessions may be temporarily, but no
longer than absolutely necessary, allocated to those displaced by the natural
disaster. Competent authorities should be requested to ensure that owners of
affected property are adequately compensated for such use. Due process
guarantees and access to fair and impartial legal procedures should be assured
for all parties.
C.2.3 The return of persons or communities displaced by the natural
disaster to their property and possessions should be facilitated as soon as
C.2.4 Owners, whose land deeds or property documents have been lost or
damaged during the natural disaster or whose land boundaries have been
destroyed, should be provided with accessible procedures to re-claim ownership
of their original land and property without undue delay.
C.2.5 Legal procedures should be put in place to consider competing
claims to land and property with due process guarantees and without delay.
Access to an independent court or tribunal should be guaranteed if the decision
is not accepted by both parties.
C.2.6 Specific arrangements should be made to enable women, particularly
widows, as well as orphaned children to (re-)claim housing, land or property
and to acquire housing or land title deeds in their own name.
C.2.7 Specific arrangements should be made to enable and facilitate
recognition of claims to land title and ownership based on prolonged
possession, in the absence of formal land titles, especially for indigenous
C.2.8 Appropriate measures should be taken to protect persons or
communities affected by natural disasters, in particular the poor, women,
members of minority groups or indigenous peoples, or those displaced, against
undue or illegal attempts by landlords, speculators, local authorities and
other actors to deprive them of their property and possessions.
C.2.9 Prohibitions to remain in or return to certain areas and/or to
rebuild that are not based on law and, in the individual case, necessary for
reasons of safety, health, disaster prevention, or the implementation of
reconstruction and development schemes should not be supported. In all cases of
prohibitions to remain or to return and rebuild measures should be taken to
provide owners with due process guarantees, including the right to be heard and
the right of access to an independent court or tribunal, as well as just
C.2.10 Should evictions become unavoidable in the course of measures
mentioned above in A.1.3 and C.2.3, the following guarantees should be put in
(a) an opportunity
for genuine consultation with those affected;
and reasonable notice prior to the scheduled date of eviction;
information on the eviction and future use of land to be made available in
officials to be present during an eviction;
persons carrying out the eviction to be properly identified;
evictions not to take place during bad weather or at night;
provision of legal remedies; and
provision of legal aid where needed to seek redress from the courts.
C.2.10 Evictions, in particular those ordered in the context of
evacuations and of secondary occupants of property and possessions left behind
by persons displaced by the natural disaster, should not render individuals
homeless or vulnerable to the violation of other human rights. Appropriate
measures should be taken to ensure that adequate alternative housing,
resettlement or access to productive land is made available to those unable to
provide for themselves.
C.3.1 Appropriate measures allowing for the speedy transition, without
discrimination of any kind, from temporary or intermediate shelter to temporary
or permanent housing, fulfilling the requirements of adequacy in international
human rights law, should be taken as soon as possible.
C.3.2 The criteria for adequacy are: accessibility, affordability,
habitability, security of tenure, cultural adequacy, suitability of location,
and access to essential services such as health and education, as well as respect
for safety standards aimed at reducing damage in cases of future disasters.
C.3.3 To ensure sustainable long-term planning of resettlement and
reconstruction in the aftermaths of a natural disasters, all affected groups
and persons, including women, indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities
should be consulted and participate in the planning and implementation of
housing programs. To the extent possible and provided that necessary safety
standards are met, owner of destroyed houses should be allowed to decide on
their own how to rebuild them.
C.4.1 Projects to restore economic activities, opportunities and
livelihoods that are disrupted by the natural disaster should start as soon and
as completely as possible. To the extent possible, such measures should already
be taken during the emergency phase.
C.4.2 Where individuals are unable to return to previous sources of
livelihood due to the natural disaster, appropriate measures including
provision of re-training opportunities or micro-credits should be taken to
provide without any discrimination of any kind as to race, color, sex,
language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin,
property, birth, age, disability or other status.
C.4.3 Access to livelihoods and employment opportunities should be taken
into account when planning temporary camps and relocation sites, as well as
permanent re-housing for individuals displaced by the natural disaster.
D. PROTECTION OF OTHER
CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS
D.1.1 Organizations providing humanitarian assistance to persons
affected by natural disasters should grant access to life-saving goods and
services even in the absence of relevant documents or issue such documents
without delay even during the emergency phase of the humanitarian action.
Personal data collected and records established in this context shall be
protected against misuse of any kind.
D.1.2 Appropriate measures to restore personal documentation, such as
birth, marriage and death certificates; insurance certificates, passports,
personal identification and travel documents; and education and health
certificates, that have been lost or destroyed in a natural disaster, to
persons affected by the natural disaster should be taken as early as possible,
including during the emergency phase.
D.1.3 Women and men should be treated equally when documents of any kind
are issued. Women should be issued documentation in their own names.
D.1.4 Unaccompanied and orphaned children should be issued documentation
in their own names.
D.1.5 Loss of personal documentation should not be used to justify the
denial of essential food and relief services; to prevent individuals from
travelling to safe areas or from returning to their homes; or to impede their
access to employment opportunities.
D.1.6 Loss of documents proving land tenure and ownership should not be
used to impede property rights (Guidelines under C.2).
D.2 Freedom of movement
and right to return
D.2.1 Persons displaced by natural disaster should be provided with the
information necessary to exercise their right to freely decide where they want
to live i.e. whether they want to return to their homes, to integrate where
they are staying during their displacement or to resettle to another part of
the country, in accordance with their right to freedom of movement.
D.2.2 Appropriate measures should be taken as soon as possible to
establish conditions conducive to sustainable return in safety and dignity, as
well as to provide the means, which allow persons displaced by the disaster to
return to their homes or places of habitual residence, or to remain or resettle
voluntarily in another part of the country. Conditions are considered
feel safe and secure, free from harassment and intimidation, as well as from
unmitigated risks of further calamitous effects produced by natural hazards;
have been able to repossess their properties or homes, and these have been
adequately reconstructed or rehabilitated;
can return to their life as normally as possible, with access to services, schools,
livelihoods, employment, markets, etc without discrimination.
D.3 Family life and
missing or dead relatives
D.3.1 Members of displaced families who wish to remain together should
be allowed and assisted to do so, including during the emergency phase and in
the context of return or resettlement.
D.3.2 Appropriate measures should be taken as early and quickly as
possible to reestablish contacts between members of families that have been
separated in the course of the disaster, and to reunite them without delay,
particularly when children are involved.
D.3.3 Separated and unaccompanied children should be assisted in
accordance with the best interests of the child; in particular, the placing of
children in institutions should be avoided whenever possible.
D.3.4 Measures should be taken to establish the fate and whereabouts of
missing relatives, and to inform the next of kin on the progress of the
investigation and results obtained.
D.3.5 Measures should be taken to collect and identify the mortal
remains of those deceased, prevent their despoliation or mutilation, and
facilitate the return of the remains to the next of kin. If remains cannot be
returned, for example, when the next of kin cannot be identified or contacted,
they must be disposed of respectfully and in a manner which will help their
future recovery and identification.
D.3.6 Cremation of unidentified bodies should be avoided. Instead, they
should be stored or buried temporarily for future identification and return to
D.3.7 All burials should be conducted in a way that respects the dignity
and privacy of the dead and of their living family members, including the
possibility of recovery of the human remains for future identification and
reburial if required, and taking into account local religious and cultural
practices and beliefs.
D.3.8 Measures should be taken to protect funerary sites and monuments
from desecration or disturbance.
D.3.9 Family members should be fully informed about the location of
grave sites, and have full access to them. They should be given the opportunity
to erect memorials and conduct religious ceremonies as needed.
D.3.10 Family members should have the opportunity to recover the remains
of their dead for further forensic investigations and to dispose of them
according to their own religious and cultural beliefs and practices.
D.4 Expression, assembly
and association, and religion
D.4.1 Mechanisms should be established to enable communities to give
feedback and raise complaints or grievances on the disaster relief, recovery
and reconstruction response. Efforts should be made to ensure that women and
persons with special needs such as children, older persons, disabled,
single-headed households and members of religious and ethnic minority groups or
indigenous peoples are specially consulted and can participate in all aspects
of the disaster response. Persons affected by the natural disaster should be
protected against adverse reaction for exchanging information or expressing
their opinions and concerns regarding the disaster relief, recovery and
reconstruction efforts. Opportunity should be provided for affected persons to
conduct peaceful assemblies or to form associations for this purpose.
D.4.2 Religious traditions should be respected as appropriate when
planning and implementing humanitarian assistance, including in the context of
food assistance, health care services, and living and sanitary arrangements.
D.4.3 Opportunity should be provided for the exercise of religious faith
in a manner that respects the rights and beliefs of others and does not incite
discrimination, hostility or violence.
D.5.1 Measures should be taken to ensure that persons affected by the
natural disaster can exercise their right to vote in elections and to be
elected, in particular if they have been displaced. Such measures may include
voter registration and arrangements for absentee voting.