Bill Clinton to coordinate Haiti relief efforts

UNITED NATIONS Mon Feb 1, 2010 9:15pm EST

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton (C), the U.N. Special Envoy to Haiti, helps load supplies at the General Hospital in Port-au-Prince January 18, 2010. REUTERS/UN/Logan Abassi

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton (C), the U.N. Special Envoy to Haiti, helps load supplies at the General Hospital in Port-au-Prince January 18, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/UN/Logan Abassi

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, currently the U.N. special envoy to Haiti, will be named international coordinator for relief efforts in the earthquake-devastated country, U.N. officials said on Monday.

Speaking on condition of anonymity because the decision has not been formally announced, U.N. diplomats and officials said Clinton was the most obvious choice to coordinate aid and reconstruction in the impoverished Caribbean nation.

"The official announcement should come sometime this week," a U.N. official told Reuters. Another official said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon would formally appoint Clinton, who would "represent the U.N. at the strategic level" and coordinate aid, financial assistance and reconstruction.

Several Security Council diplomats said Clinton had strong backing from U.N. member states.

They said he was the right person for the job because he can combine his U.N. authority with his experience and connections in the U.S. government.

The former president, whose wife Hillary Clinton is U.S. secretary of state, has been actively involved in the Haiti relief effort from the beginning and has already visited the country to witness the destruction for himself.

Clinton told a meeting of global leaders in Davos, Switzerland, last week that there were "serious unmet food and water needs" in Haiti and appealed for short- and long-term funds to help the country.

Nearly three weeks after the magnitude 7.0 earthquake killed up to 200,000 Haitians and made up to 1 million homeless, a huge U.S.-led international relief operation has been struggling to help injured and hungry survivors.

The United Nations, which has more than 12,600 troops and police in Haiti, has been overseeing the emergency relief effort in coordination with the U.S. military, which has mobilized more than 10,000 personnel to help the country.

The world body is still reeling from the loss of at least 92 U.N. personnel who were killed after the U.N. peacekeeping mission's headquarters and other buildings collapsed in the January 12 earthquake.

A spokeswoman for Clinton did not return phone and e-mail messages requesting comment.

(Editing by Mohammad Zargham)