United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today appointed former United States President George Herbert Walker Bush as his Special Envoy for the South Asian Earthquake Disaster, representing the UN system in the national and international response to the destruction of 8 October.
“I am delighted that President Bush has accepted to play this role,” Mr. Annan said, introducing Mr. Bush in his new capacity. “I know the Pakistani authorities are too. We know that he is going to bring extraordinary leadership and attention to this terrible tragedy.”
He will work to mobilize and sustain the political will of the international community “to ensure that the pledges that have been made are promptly converted to cash, so that the recovery and reconstruction and emergency activities can continue,” he said.
He will also, Mr. Annan said, work with the Government and people of Pakistan to ensure their coordination with the UN and its development agencies, regional organizations, financial institutions and non-governmental organizations.
Former President Bush, along with his successor, former President Bill Clinton, were named by President George W. Bush to lead private fundraising efforts in the US in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami, after which Mr. Clinton became the UN’s Special Envoy for regions affected by that disaster.
The devastating 7.6 magnitude earthquake on the Richter scale that struck South Asia on 8 October killed more than 73,000 people in Pakistan and 1,300 in India. An additional 69,000 people in Pakistan were injured as a result of the quake.
In a rapid response to the disaster, the UN provided search-and-rescue and other life-saving assistance on the ground and launched a Flash Appeal for humanitarian assistance, asking for $500 million, of which $226 has already been committed.
A donor conference, focused on support for national reconstruction efforts, was organized by the Government of Pakistan in Islamabad on 19 November, at which nearly $6 billion was pledged.