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Former US President Bush in Pakistan as UN envoy

Former US President Bush in Pakistan as UN envoy to spotlight earthquake victims

Former United States President George Herbert Walker Bush, who is also Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Envoy for the South Asian Earthquake Disaster, arrived in Pakistan today to spotlight the plight of victims.

Although harsh winter weather kept him from visiting areas devastated by October’s earthquake, former President Bush met with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and made plans to visit affected areas as soon as possible, a UN spokesman said today.

Mr. Annan appointed the former president as Special Envoy on 15 December to represent the UN system in the national and international response to the 8 October earthquake that killed more than 73,000 people, injured nearly 70,000 and left millions homeless.

Today marks 100 days since the disaster, and a senior UN relief official reported that pledges and commitments to the UN’s appeal for earthquake relief funds had reached close to 60 per cent.

“That doesn’t mean that all the money is in the box, but it means that the money is firmly pledged and therefore you can expend against it if you have the resources to do so,” Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Margareta Wahlström told reporters in New York.

In late October, the UN increased the level of funds sought from $238 million to $550 million to save the lives of tens of thousands of earthquake survivors.

Ms. Wahlström said humanitarian workers needed to maintain the relief operations over the next few months until the harsh winter weather eases at the beginning of April and recovery operations can begin.

“We need to sustain the efforts to get the 100 per cent financing,” she said.

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