UN tsunami envoy brings words of encouragement to humanitarian workers

“Everywhere I go in the world, they say thank you to people like you for what you are doing,” Deputy Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery Erskine Bowles declared. “I bring that message.”Mr. Bowles, a top aide of former United States President Bill Clinton who was named deputy envoy after Mr. Clinton was temporarily sidelined as Special Envoy by surgery, said he wanted the relief and reconstruction community in Sri Lanka to know that the former president “sees his role as helping you, and he wants to keep the sense of urgency that you have shown and to make sure you get the resources you need.”Mr. Clinton’s objective and his own, he said, “is to keep the money coming in during the three- to five-year recovery stage,” and to make sure that countries honoured the pledges they have already made.Some 90 per cent of the $977 million flash appeal launched by the United Nations to cover the first six months of relief for the disaster, which killed more than 200,000 people and devastated large swathes of coast in a dozen Indian Ocean countries, is already covered, with more than $500 million paid up and the rest firmly committed. But much, much more is needed for long-term reconstruction.Mr. Bowles, who also visited Indonesia and the Maldives, said he would write a full report for Mr. Clinton immediately on his return to New York, and the two would then meet with the heads of UN agencies and international non-government organizations (NGOs).”The UN is at a point of risk right now and we all need to work together,” he added, citing some of the political pressures and attacks currently challenging the world body. Regarding the relief and recovery efforts in Sri Lanka, he stressed the need for “real transparency and accountability.”

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