Special UN Envoy, Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Praises Relief Effort But Urges Renewed Momentum
GENEVA/NEW YORK, 23 June 2005 - Six months after the tsunami ripped through communities across the Indian Ocean last December, the development agencies most involved in the recovery effort said the toughest challenges still lie ahead - including the complex issues of where to re-establish housing, how to quickly restore livelihoods, and what to prioritize now that the immediate relief phase is over.
Speaking on behalf of the UN agencies involved in ongoing recovery efforts, former U.S. President Bill Clinton said that while the immediate relief effort had been extraordinary the magnitude of the job ahead remained daunting.
"The tragedy brought the world closer together," said President Clinton, who is the UN Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery. "For a period of time, everyone focused on saving lives without regard to nationality, politics or anything else. But while the immediate relief effort was unprecedented in its scope, we cannot underestimate the enormity of the job that remains."
President Clinton urged the UN and its partners to keep up the momentum they have built up during the first six months. Tsunami recovery efforts, he said, are at a particularly difficult transition phase where planning for long-term reconstruction in the different countries is nearly finalized but is still far from being implemented.
"Our work to help these nations and communities recover will be marathon for us," President Clinton said. "But we have to run that marathon at a sprinter's pace, moving in a coordinated and accountable manner, to accomplish our mission. Many millions of lives depend on our efforts over the next year."
President Clinton noted that coordination between bodies including UN agencies and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies had helped to significantly alleviate suffering.
"Bringing lasting relief to tsunami-affected countries will continue to be extremely complex, and that is why all those involved must work together strongly. Coordination between bodies including the International Federation and UN agencies has to date contributed significantly to the alleviation of suffering," said Johan Schaar, Tsunami Operations Special Representative of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Thanks to the generosity of donors from across the globe the UN agencies and the International Federation provided life-saving materials to millions of tsunami survivors across the region. For example:
As the operation moves from life-saving relief to long-term recovery, President Clinton outlined four urgent priorities that need to be addressed in the coming weeks:
First, an action plan needs to be in place for the recovery effort where all actors - UN agencies, non-governmental agencies, donors and affected governments and the corporate sector - agree on who is going to do what, when, where. They need to coordinate and be held accountable for doing their part.
Second, livelihoods need to be restored through vocational training. And, across the board, the capacity of local structures - governmental and non-governmental - need to be strengthened.
Third, the displaced need to be moved from tents to adequate transitional shelters.
Fourth, greater efforts are needed to protect the most vulnerable, including women and children, as decisions about the long-term priorities are made.
He noted that full recovery in the hardest-hit areas will take at least two to five years, and in some places up to a decade. Complete reconstruction is expected to cost an estimated US $8.9 billion, according to the affected governments.
The UN agencies working on the ground report that already-stretched government structures need to resolve many complex and time-consuming policy issues, including the determination of land titles, zoning of land, and the size of coastal buffer zones, among other things.
Within the next six months, UN agencies and non-governmental organizations, working with government authorities, will:
For more information, please contact:
Office of the Special Envoy: Jehane Sedky-Lavandero,
+1 212 906 6904, firstname.lastname@example.org
UNICEF: Damien Personnaz, +41 22 909 5716
OCHA: Kristen Knutson, +1 917 367 9262, email@example.com
UNDP: Bill Orme, +1 212 906 5382, firstname.lastname@example.org
WFP: Anthea Webb, +39 6 65132411, email@example.com
IOM: Chris Lom + 662 068 530, firstname.lastname@example.org
WHO: Marko Kokic, +41 79 217 3411, email@example.com
IFRC: Pete Haydon, + 41 22 79 308 9804, firstname.lastname@example.org