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Former US President Clinton visits Asia for last time as UN tsunami envoy

Former US President Clinton visits Asia for last time as UN tsunami envoy

Former US President Bill Clinton
Former United States President Bill Clinton starts his last visit to Asia today as the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery, making stops in India, Thailand and Indonesia to review rebuilding progress after the ravages of the 2004 disaster that killed over 230,000 people and affected more than 12 countries in the region.

Mr. Clinton, who is expected to step down as Special Envoy at the end of the year, will first travel to Tamil Nadu, India, and then on to Phuket, Thailand, before wrapping up his visit on Saturday in Indonesia’s Aceh province, which was worst hit by the 26 December 2004 tragedy.

“He will focus on programmes that he has advocated for and coordinated over the last two years, including efforts to promote equity and empower communities to take charge of their own development, restoring livelihoods and promoting disaster resilience and disaster risk reduction,” Mr. Clinton’s office said in a press release.

During his visit to Phuket, he will visit a small Moken (sea gypsy) community who have begun to rebuild their livelihoods, and in their village he will also officially launch the World Conservation Union’s (IUCN) Mangroves for the Future Initiative aimed at strengthening coastal ecosystems and livelihoods throughout the Indian Ocean region.

Mangroves for the Future is a multi-agency, multi-country scheme promoting long-term investment in coastal ecosystem conservation as development infrastructure, and is initially targeting six countries badly affected by the tsunami: India, Indonesia, Maldives, Seychelles, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

On Saturday afternoon, Mr. Clinton will be in Aceh visiting one of the barrack sites built by Indonesia’s Government to serve as temporary shelter for people displaced by the tsunami, and also a transitional shelter site run by the Australian Red Cross, one of the programmes that he pressed hard to implement and a mid-way for people who had been living in tents and who are now waiting for permanent housing.

As well as visiting sites affected by the tsunami during his two-day visit, he will also tour locations where the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative operates, the press release said. Today is World Aids Day.