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UN Appeals for $1.4 Billion for Haitian Quake Victims

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Margaret Besheer

The U.N. Secretary-General is appealing to the international community for more than $1.4 billion to assist the three million Haitians directly impacted by January's devastating earthquake for the rest of this year. He made the appeal Thursday, alongside his Special Envoy for Haiti, former U.S. President Bill Clinton.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the humanitarian situation in Haiti is improving daily, but there are clearly major needs that have yet to be met.

"As you all know, the rainy season will soon be upon us," said Ban Ki-moon. "That puts a premium on shelter, sanitation and health."

The urgently needed funds will provide emergency shelter and sanitation for the more than 1.2 million people left homeless. At least two million people require food aid and about one-third of the total appeal - about $480 million - is for feeding them.

In the days immediately following the January 12 earthquake the U.N. appealed for just over a half billion dollars to meet victims needs for six months. The international community answered the U.N.'s call and more than fully funded that request. The Secretary-General said the revised appeal includes those funds received already, plus the hundreds of millions more needed, totaling more than $1.4 billion for this year.

"It is designed to finance the continuing costs of emergency relief," he said. "But more than that, it is designed to help lay the foundation for Haiti's recovery and reconstruction."

Mr. Ban thanked his Special Envoy for Haiti Bill Clinton, who just last week underwent a procedure to unblock a coronary artery, saying his presence was testament to his commitment to Haiti.

Mr. Clinton urged nations to give generously and said there would be accountability and transparency for the money they give.

"There's a website we established: HaitiSpecialEnvoy.org. We are going to update it daily," said Bill Clinton. "You will be able to go to this website and see who gave what money and what it's been spent on. It is the beginning of a transparency process that worked so well in the Tsunami area that enabled us to build back better. You have a right to hold me accountable for this and to hold our system accountable."

President Clinton also stressed that it is vital to get Haitians beyond living day-to-day, saying it would be impossible for them to rebuild their country when they are worried about their basic survival.

U.N. officials say the size of the appeal - which exceeds even that of the 2005 Tsunami - reflects the magnitude of the catastrophe, the unmet needs and the necessity of establishing the right foundation for reconstruction.

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