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Bill Clinton to Lead UN Jobs Program for Haitians

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Margaret Besheer

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton has agreed to lead a U.N. program that will offer jobs to Haitian youth as part of the clean-up and recovery following last week's earthquake.

Last spring U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon asked Mr. Clinton to become his Special Envoy for Haiti. Now the former president has agreed to take on an additional role - promoting the U.N.'s jobs for cash program.

"During my recent visit to Haiti I have met many people," said Ban Ki-moon. "What they asked us - of course they need water, food, shelter, basic needs - they need a better future. They need a better future and permanent jobs - work with dignity."

The U.N. says the jobs will include the basics of recovery such as removing rubble from the streets. They will pay $5 per day. With 20 work days per month, individuals will earn $100 each month - a very decent wage in Haiti.

Mr. Clinton said he was already working on development projects in Haiti before the earthquake and that the cash for jobs program is a natural next step.

"It is really important," said Bill Clinton. "The United States has a lot of experience with that in the Middle East, Afghanistan - that it is really important to give young people something positive to do. And a lot of people there want to be a part of rebuilding their country."

On Monday, cabinet ministers from many countries will meet in Montreal, Canada at a preliminary meeting to look ahead at Haiti's medium- and longer-term reconstruction needs.

Officials warn that the road ahead will be long and expensive. The United Nations has already appealed for more than $550 million for emergency relief over the next six months. But that figure is likely to go up and reconstruction costs will be much more. 
 

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