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February 02, 2010

UN Asks Bill Clinton to Assume Leadership Role in Haiti Efforts

The United Nations has asked former U.S. President Bill Clinton to assume "a leadership role" in coordinating international aid efforts in Haiti.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made the announcement in a meeting Wednesday with Mr. Clinton in New York. 

Former President Clinton, who is already the U.N. Special Envoy for Haiti, said the "challenges are great" in Haiti, following the January 12 earthquake that left much of the capital, Port-au-Prince, in rubble.

The United Nations says the aid operation has been particularly difficult and complicated, but that there has been progress in helping the survivors.

U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes Tuesday said most of the necessary life-saving operations already have taken place, but that vital drugs are lacking.  He also said more surveillance systems need to be in place to monitor the outbreak of epidemics.

Holmes said more people are receiving food, and that the World Food Program aims to reach two million people in the coming days. 

Officials have said a new coupon-based system has brought a sense of order to food distribution efforts. But a resident of a makeshift tent city told Voice of America that the free food deliveries do not always reach those who need them most.