Annan lauds tsunami envoy Bill Clinton, says the UN will continue his rebuilding efforts
Marking the final meeting of the international consortium set up to deal with the ravages of the deadly 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today praised former United States President Bill Clinton for making a “profound difference” to millions of survivors of the disaster.
Former President Clinton is expected to step down as Mr. Annan’s Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery by the end of the year, but today he chaired the fifth meeting of the Global Consortium at the UN Children Fund’s (UNICEF) House in New York.
“Mr. President, I know I speak for all in thanking you for your dedication and commitment to the recovery and rehabilitation effort. You have made a profound difference to the well-being of millions of tsunami survivors,” Mr. Annan said in a statement read out by UNICEF Executive Director Anne Veneman.
The Global Consortium for Tsunami Recovery includes representatives from the UN, global financial organizations, and a wide range of other agencies and governments, including Thailand, Indonesia, the Maldives, Sri Lanka and India – the countries worst affected by the 26 December 2004 disaster.
“You have sought to downplay your achievements… But let me trumpet my Envoy’s contributions: you have led, inspired, goaded, cajoled, and – when necessary – pushed all of us to do what we had to, and so much more,” Mr. Annan added.
Today’s meeting reviewed progress made in recovery and rehabilitation efforts over the past two years, including replacing livelihoods and building local government capacity, and also looked for renewed commitments, as well as identifying key lessons learned and strategies aimed at reducing the risk from disasters.
The devastating tsunami killed more than 230,000 people and affected more than 12 countries in Asia and, despite much progress in reconstruction, Mr. Clinton warned at the fourth meeting of the Global Consortium in April that major challenges remain.
“There is substantial progress to report in areas like home and school construction and a welcome rebound in tourist arrivals but we still face formidable challenges, from addressing the housing needs of displaced persons, to increasing timber supplies without endangering forests, to addressing the remaining $100 million funding gap in the Maldives,” he said.