A United Nations expert on extreme poverty and human rights visited Charleston today for a public meeting on the systemic causes and manifestations of poverty in West Virginia.
The meeting covered social protection and the criminalization of homelessness, as well as health and rural poverty. About 40 people attended - including representatives from groups such as West Virginia Free, the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and West Virginians for Affordable Health Care.
Professor Philip Alston is the current Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights. His job is to conduct research and analysis for the Human Rights Council and General Assembly, which includes visits to determine violations of human rights around the world.
In a November announcement of the U.S. visit, Alston said, “some might ask why a UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights would visit a country as rich as the United States. But despite great wealth in the US, there also exists great poverty and inequality.”
Alston has been in the U.S. since the first of December and has visited cities in California, Alabama, Georgia and Puerto Rico. He returns to Washington, D.C. tomorrow for the end of his tour.
Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from the Marshall Health, Charleston Area Medical Center and WVU Medicine.