Recovery efforts should not exacerbate existing inequities - Clinton

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 29 November 2005, 15:40 GMT]
UN Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery and former US President, Bill Clinton, who is currently in Sri Lanka on the eve of tsunami anniversary to assess rebuilding and recovery progress, said in Colombo Tuesday that post-tsunami recovery effort should not exacerbate existing inequities. "Building better roads and schools is essential, but it is not enough. We need to ensure that all people in Sri Lanka are on their way to a better and safer development path than they were prior to this tragedy," Mr. Clinton said during his third visit to Sri Lanka.

A statement from the UN office in Colombo said that Mr. Clinton had met with key members of the government, the UN and civil society to assess the status of the recovery effort and how best to tackle ongoing challenges, including the quick restoration of livelihoods and the equitable distribution of aid.

Following is the UN statement in full:

As the one-year anniversary of the tsunami approaches, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, the UN Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery, returned to Sri Lanka today to review progress achieved since the tsunami struck the country's coast last December. He met with key members of the government, the UN and civil society to assess the status of the recovery effort and how best to tackle ongoing challenges, including the quick restoration of livelihoods and the equitable distribution of aid. This visit was President Clinton's second to the country in his capacity as UN Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery.

An estimated 30,000 people died in Sri Lanka as a result of last December's tsunami and an additional 516,000 were displaced. An estimated 58,000 transitional shelters have been built to house hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the catastrophic event.

Speaking from Colombo, President Clinton remarked on the status of the rebuilding effort in the region: "Almost one year after the devastating tsunami struck the coast of Sri Lanka, real progress has been achieved: Ninety percent of children are back in school, epidemics have been prevented and transitional shelter has been provided to almost all internally displaced people." President Clinton also addressed the challenges facing the region in the ongoing effort to build back better, noting that "There is still more to be done and efforts must focus on maintaining the shelters as the monsoon season approaches, providing jobs to the hundreds of thousands of people who lost their source of livelihood as a result of the tsunami, and the construction of permanent homes," he added.

UN Special Envoy and Former US President Bill Clinton in Trincomalle
UN Special Envoy President Bill Clinton in Trincomalle


During his visit to Sri Lanka President Clinton traveled to the northeast area of the country. In Colombo he also met with civil society members and listened to their concerns about equity in the distribution of aid among tsunami survivors in different parts of the country, and between those displaced by the tsunami and the 800,000 people who have been displaced by conflict.

"If we are to truly build back better, we need to ensure that the recovery effort does not exacerbate existing inequities," President Clinton said. "Building better roads and schools is essential, but it is not enough. We need to ensure that all people in Sri Lanka are on their way to a better and safer development path than they were prior to this tragedy," he added.

Referring to newly elected President Mahinda Rajapakse, President Clinton noted that he hoped that efforts to promote peace and reconciliation would prevail. "Any recovery progress achieved this year will be quickly reversed if Sri Lanka returns to civil conflict," President Clinton said.

President Clinton's trip to Sri Lanka is part of his visit to the tsunami affected region nearly one year after the tsunami struck 12 countries killing over 230,000 people and displacing an estimated 1.5 million. As part of his trip, President Clinton will travel from Sri Lanka to Aceh, Indonesia on November 30th where he will meet with government, UN, civil society and private sector representatives as well as with members of affected communities in Indonesia.

 

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