UNITED NATIONS – Former U.S. President Bill Clinton launched a US$45 million (€34 million) appeal with the U.N. children’s agency on Monday to provide clean water and sanitation to victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami and said he expects the United States in the long run to contribute billions of dollars to rebuild the devastated areas.
Clinton and former President George H.W. Bush were appointed by President George W. Bush to increase private donations after the Dec. 26 earthquake triggered tidal waves that swept across Southeast Asia to Africa – and Clinton said over one-third of a billion dollars has already been donated to charities. But he said that he also tried to determine whether there was a particular area where there wasn’t enough money to meet the needs of the millions of people affected by the tsunami. ‘Our inquiries determined that in the weeks and months ahead more resources will be needed to provide clean water and adequate sanitation both for survival and for the prevention of disease,’ Clinton said. ‘The initial inquiry that we made … was that we ought to try to raise another US$45 million for this purpose alone.’
The new fund is a joint project of the Clinton Foundation and the United Nations Children’s Fund. Clinton said he and his wife, Sen. Hillary Clinton, made the first contribution, which wasn’t disclosed.
The money raised will be used by UNICEF, working with other relief organizations, ‘to make sure that we do everything we can to keep people alive and to prevent the spread of disease,’ Clinton said. ‘Diseases such as dysentery and diarrhea accompany absence of clean water – the presence of polluted water -and they disproportionately impact children.’
UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy told a news conference that at least one-third of the more than 150,000 people killed in the disaster are believed to have been children, and more than one million children have been made homeless.
‘Providing safe water and clean sanitation is the foundation for keeping children alive, keeping them healthy, providing for their future,’ Bellamy said. ‘It will not be easy. Water systems have been destroyed. They’ve been polluted. They’ve been clogged, or they’ve been spoiled with sea water,’ she said.
Clinton praised the outpouring of support for the tsunami victims and expressed hope that the US$45 million would be raised quickly.
‘This tsumani may illustrate the fragility of human life but the response to it represents the strength of the human spirit,’ he said. Clinton said millions of people around the world have donated money for the victims in what he called a ‘revolution in small donor giving.’ He expressed hope that in the future these new donors might help millions of other people living without clean water and sanitation.