3 January 2006

Secretary-General Appoints George H. W. Bush as Special Envoy for South Asian Earthquake

NEW YORK, 30 December (UN Headquarters) -- United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has appointed former United States President George H.W. Bush as his Special Envoy for the South Asian Earthquake Disaster.

As the Special Envoy, former President Bush will represent the Secretary-General and the United Nations system in the national and international response to the 8 October earthquake in South Asia, leading the Organization's efforts and sustaining international political will to support humanitarian, medium-term and long-term rehabilitation, reconstruction and risk reduction.

The Special Envoy will also work to mobilize the international community -- including the United Nations, development agencies, regional organizations, multilateral institutions, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector -- to work in a coordinated fashion with the Government of Pakistan.  He will work to ensure that funding for relief and reconstruction activities is realized and effectively channelled to communities in need, and that public awareness of the South Asia earthquake remains high.

"I am delighted that President Bush has accepted to play this role.  I know the Pakistan authorities are, too.  We know that he is going to bring extraordinary leadership and attention to this terrible tragedy", the Secretary-General said.

"I look forward to serving in the capacity of UN Special Envoy, for I, like so many others around the globe, have been deeply affected by the suffering of the victims of this awful earthquake.  This is a disaster of enormous proportions and the recovery is going to be a long and difficult task", said President Bush.

The appointment of a Special Envoy follows the devastating 7.6 magnitude earthquake that struck South Asia on 8 October, killing more than 73,000 people in Pakistan and 1,300 in India.  An additional 69,000 people in Pakistan were injured in the earthquake.

The international community responded quickly to the Government of Pakistan's call for search-and-rescue and relief assistance.  In addition to providing life-saving assistance on the ground, the United Nations quickly launched a Flash Appeal for humanitarian assistance, asking for $550 million.

To date, nearly $226 million has been committed against the Appeal.  A donor conference, focused on support for national reconstruction efforts, was organized by the Government of Pakistan in Islamabad on 19 November at which nearly $6 billion was pledged towards Pakistan's recovery.

The Special Envoy, George Herbert Walker Bush, served from 1989 to 1993 as the forty-first president of the United States.  Prior to his presidency, he served as Vice-President to Ronald Reagan, Director of the United States Central Intelligence Agency, Chief of the United States Liaison Office in the People's Republic of China, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, and the Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations.  Born in Milton, Massachusetts, on 12 June 1924, he is a graduate of Yale University.

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