Bill Clinton, in new diplomatic role, urges help for Haiti

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, who has been appointed as United Nations Special Envoy to Haiti, says one of his first orders of business to help the impoverished Caribbean nation will be to ensure that $353 million in promised pledges from the international community actually end up in Haiti.

"We want to encourage the donors both to honor the commitments they have already made at the donor's conference," Clinton said. "We also want to do everything we can to make sure that these donor commitments are aligned as closely as possible with the Haitian program we have been given."

Clinton made the announcement Monday at a U.N. press conference in New York during which he laid out a long and ambitious list of priorities he plans to tackle in his new role. It was the first time Clinton has spoken publicly about his plans for Haiti since U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon named him to the post last month.

"I will do my best. It's a formidable task," Clinton said, adding that he also plans to focus on bringing alternative energy to the country, encourage better coordination among thousands of nongovernmental organizations working in Haiti and to attract private investors. "This is the best chance that Haitians have ever had."

Last month, Haitian Prime Minister Michele Pierre-Louis complained that despite commitments at a donor's conference in Washington, her government was still waiting on a plan on how, and where they intend to spend the money.


Related stories from McClatchy DC