Equitable distribution of aid without discrimination, must be the priority for those assisting in relief efforts. In particular, gender equality and addressing the unique needs of women and children, people with disabilities and other marginalised groups must be an integral part of response plans.
Human rights-based approach is crucial
Amnesty International urges that a human rights based approach is at the core of the response to the cyclone. With so many people displaced and living in evacuation centres, the likelihood of further human rights abuses is increased. One case of sexual assault in a Savusavu evacuation centre has already been reported.
In the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster, longstanding international human rights principles are a necessity and not an optional luxury that can only be considered once order has been restored. Ensuring the protection of human rights is essential in times of crisis.
Amnesty International welcomes the prompt response and collaboration of the governments of Fiji, Australia, New Zealand and France, UN agencies, and international development organisations in providing post-disaster assistance to people in Fiji.
Amnesty International urges the Government of Fiji and others working on relief efforts to ensure:
- Respect for human rights, particularly those rights which cannot be suspended in times of emergencies (including the right to life and the right to be free from torture);
- Transparency and accountability are at the forefront of plans and actions so that survivors are guaranteed the assistance they need and that such assistance is delivered effectively and equitably;
- Protection and empowerment of women and marginalised groups such as children, the elderly and persons with disabilities;
- Treatment of those displaced is in full compliance with the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement and other international standards, which guarantee protection to displaced people.