GENEVA -- The United States must better protect poor people and African-Americans in natural disasters to avoid problems like those after Hurricane Katrina, a U.N. human rights panel said Friday.
The U.N. Human Rights Committee said poor and black Americans were "disadvantaged" after Katrina, and the U.S. should work harder to ensure that their rights "are fully taken into consideration in the reconstruction plans with regard to access to housing, education and health care."
The United States said federal and Louisiana state authorities were examining many of the issues raised by the committee.
In New Orleans, activists praised the U.N. report at a news conference in the predominantly black Gert Town neighborhood, which remains heavily damaged by the hurricane.
Monique Harden, co-director of Advocates for Environmental Human Rights, urged the U.N. to examine the treatment of black and poor Gulf Coast residents, and said the committee's findings were important to recovery efforts in the region.
"It's a wake-up call, and it's also a call for change in the way the United States government has been handling this recovery," Harden said.