Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Bill Clinton becomes UN Special Envoy to Haiti

Former President Bill Clinton is now the United Nations Special Envoy to Haiti. Clinton says that he wants to use the job to help to improve the lives of Haitians and to help them escape poverty.

From this Associated Press article that we found at WPBF, writer Edith Lederer attended a press conference that announced the appointment.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and was in the throes of a food crisis and political deadlock when four tropical storms battered it last fall, killing some 800 people and doing $1 billion in damage. Hunger worsened, poverty deepened and hard-won stability threatened to come apart five years after a bloody rebellion.

Clinton said he will try to do in Haiti what the U.N. attempted to do when he was the top U.N. envoy promoting recovery from the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami -- "to leave things better than they were before the natural disasters."

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who appointed Clinton to the US$1-a-year post on May 19, told a news conference that "no one is better placed" than the former U.S. president to help Haiti's president and prime minister promote their new economic development program and to help ensure that governments deliver on the US$335 million they pledged in April for Haiti's recovery.

"Haiti is at a turning point," Ban said. "It has a real chance for stability and potential prosperity. ... And we wanted to send a message to the international community: Haiti needs and deserves our help."

Sitting beside the secretary-general, Clinton said that even after the devastation caused by last year's storms "I think Haiti ... has the best chance to escape the darker aspects of its history in the 35 years I have been going there."

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