Philip Alston said last week that rural Alabama's poverty was "uncommon" for what the United Nations official has seen in developed countries, AL.com wrote.
Alston visited parts of Alabama's so-called "Black Belt" last Thursday as part of a 15-day tour of the United States, the website said. The state's "Black Belt" is a string of counties across the South that has a history of poverty and racial discrimination.
Alston, U.N, special rapporteur from Australia, and his team are gathering information for a report on poverty and human rights abuses in America that they expect to release next spring, AL.com said.
After visiting one home in Butler County where the electrical service was "unreliable" and the septic tank had failed, Alston said, per AL.com: "The hope is that we'll bring attention to [these problems], just like we bring attention to people who are being tortured."
"… 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," Alston added about the poverty he witnessed, according to AL.com.
Alston visited Lowndes County where a study by the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in conjunction with Alabama Center for Rural Enterprise noted a proliferation of what is known as hookworms among its residents, The Guardian reported in September.
In the Baylor study, 73 percent of residents said they had been exposed to raw sewage washing back into their homes as a result of faulty septic tanks or waste pipes becoming overwhelmed in torrential rains, The Guardian reported.
"There is a human right for people to live decently, and that means the government has an obligation to provide people with the essentials of life, which include power, water and sewage service," Alston told AL.com. "But if the government says, 'oh no, we're not going to do it,' and leaves you to install very expensive septic tanks, that's not how it should work."
Alston told the website that he believed the U.S. will "have to respond" to his final report that will include his interviews and observations in Alabama.
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