WILPF Response to Hurricane Katrina

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The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom/US Section offers our sincerest condolences to the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. In particular, WILPF extends its support to the women, poor women and women of color, as the brunt of disaster has and will ultimately fall on the shoulders of the most oppressed. Your struggles will remain in our hearts and minds.

We demand that immediate aid and assistance be made available to those affected by this tragedy, and that long term solutions be sought out to dismantle the unjust, oppressive economic and political systems that led to much of this devastation. Katrina was a disaster created and maintained by a gross imbalance of power, one that teeters on the fault lines of race, class and gender. WILPF’s vision is a world where equality and justice, lived within a framework of ecological wisdom, shape the framework of our national life. Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath make it clear that our reality is something entirely different. WILPF see this tragedy through the lens of root causes: racism, militarism, and environmental degradation.

While $2.2 billion per day is spent waging war and occupying Iraq, additional thousands are reportedly dead because New Orleans was not evacuated in time and the levees were not repaired. The federal government’s lethal ineptitude cannot be excused. All people, regardless of race or class, employed or unemployed, young or old, sick or healthy, are to be guaranteed the right to safety and protection. The government has the means and responsibility to provide for people’s needs in an emergency and to protect them from harm when necessary. Cuba, which has offered 1100 doctors to help in this emergency, was able to evacuate 1.5 million people before a devastating hurricane last year. Not one life was lost.

For the sake of all those who died, or have survived Katrina and bear the consequences, we call on the Bush Administration and Congress to

*Provide food, water, shelter, clothing, medical supplies, schooling, and other necessities, free of charge.

*Provide emergency medical care and measures to prevent massive epidemics.

*Provide emergency unemployment relief to the thousands who have lost their jobs because of the devastation.

*Provide a massive jobs program at union wages for rebuilding, employing the millions of unemployed workers in the Gulf Coast area to help construct housing, schools, and other public facilities.

*Cease the militaristic measures of the police and National Guard troops who are surrounding emergency shelters. They must be instructed to protect people, not shoot them.

*Stop funding the war and occupation of Iraq. Use the money instead to fund emergency relief and rebuild the cities destroyed in the hurricane.

*Take Global Climate Change seriously. Ensure that all measures will be taken to prevent another human catastrophe of this nature, in view of other expected hurricanes and severe natural events.

The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom has been working since 1915 to unite women worldwide who oppose oppression and exploitation. An international organization with sections in 37 countries, WILPF stands for equality of all people in a world free of racism, sexism, and homophobia; the building of a constructive peace through world disarmament; and the changing of government priorities to meet human needs. U.S. WILPF envisions a world free of violence, poverty, pollution, and domination – a genuine new world order of peace and justice. We seek to achieve lasting change through our two current campaigns: Save the Water and Women Challenging US Policy: Building Peace on Justice in the Middle East.

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