U.N. Official Shocked and Horrified by Poverty in Rural Alabama


Photo Credit: Gustavo Frazao / Shutterstock

„I think it’s very uncommon in the First World.“

By Carlos Ballesteros | Newsweek/Alternet

A United Nations official investigating poverty in the United States was shocked at the level of environmental degradation in some areas of rural Alabama, saying he had never seen anything like it in the developed world.

„I think it’s very uncommon in the First World. This is not a sight that one normally sees. I’d have to say that I haven’t seen this,“ Philip Alston, the U.N.’s Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, told Connor Sheets of AL.com earlier this week as they toured a community in Butler County where raw sewage flows from homes through exposed PVC pipes and into open trenches and pits.

The tour through Alabama’s rural communities is part of a two-week investigation by the U.N. on poverty and human rights abuses in the United States. So far, U.N. investigators have visited cities and towns in California and Alabama, and will soon travel to Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia.

Of particular concern to Alston are specific poverty-related issues that have surfaced across the country in recent years, such as an  outbreak of hookworm in Alabama in 2017—a disease typically found in nations with substandard sanitary conditions in South Asia and Subsaharan Africa.

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