Bill Clinton in Sri Lanka

Bill Clinton und George Bush auf Visite in Sri Lanka. Sie schauen sich die Tsunami betroffenen Gebiete an. Die Flutwelle richtete in Sri Lanka riesige Schäden an, die das Land nicht so schnell verkraftet. Fotos aus Matara und Umgebung. Bilder zeigen, dass noch viel zu tun ist. Viel Zeit für holiday bleibt den ehemaligen US - Präsidenten nicht. Sie müssen beurteilen, wohin die Spendengelder aus den USA am sinnvollsten investiert werden...

Bush, Clinton leave with heavy hearts

Former US President George Bush and Bill Clinton who visited the Souther city of Matara yesterday were visibly moved by the efforts of the little victims of the tsunami disaster to overcome their harrowing experience of the boxing day catastrophe.

The hearts of the two former world superpower heavyweights reached out to stricken victims in moving scenes as they clapped,sang and danced with the children at a Trauma counselling camp in Polathumodera.


"You just can't help but feel something in your heart about these children" an emotional Bush said after visiting the camp started under a USAID programme in the aftermath of the tsunami.

"Some of them are still drawing about tsunami and some of them are drawing life as they remember it and as they want it to be again" Clinton said .

"We see physical devastation.We see adults struggling to rebuild their homes and start their businesses Clinton said adding " there is a lot of emotional damage here not visible to the eye.

The two presidents became very emotional upon seeing paintings and an entertainment programme by children recovering at the camp. They said that the vast scale physical devastation and the massive numbers of lives lost cannot be compared with the impact the tsunami had on children. However, they added that the children have shown so much resilience during the entire episode and had started to rebuild their shattered lives.

The two ex-Presidents, nominated by President George W.Bush to spearhead fund raising efforts in the US, told the media during their tour of Matara that more than one third of US households have made donations to tsunami relief. Speaking to reporters during the tour, Bush and Clinton termed the donors' efforts as 'heroic and intense.

" We saw the extent of destruction in all the places we went " Clinton said adding that the donors can be satisfied that the money is being well spent."Still there is an enormous amount to be done in these countries" he stressed in response to media queries.

The US Government is to increase its tsunami aid to US$ 950 million and private donations have reached the US$ 700 million mark, US residents George Bush and Bill Clinton said yesterday.

They emphasised the need for an independent body to monitor the large-scale funds channelled through private charity organisations.

The former White House incumbents are on a whirlwind tour of tsunami hit countries since Saturday. This is the first-ever visit by US Presidents to Sri Lanka. The two envoys of the US president George Bush first visited Thailand's Bam Namkhem and then Indonesia's heavily hit Aceh province before flying here in a special US aircraft on Sunday evening.

Their first stop of the Matara tour was the Water Purification project at Koggala, which is being co-ordinated by ITT industries USA. The second stop was the USAID funded temporary Housing Units programme and the tsunami trauma counselling camp for children.

At the trauma counselling centre, the Child Centred Space where 40 children engage in normal activities such as group play, after school activities, they admired some of their paintings portraying unexpressed emotions.

CCF Sri Lanka Child Protection Program Manager Eileen Ihrig said that they operate 45 such camps covering Galle, Matara, Hambantota, Ampara and Trincomalee. President Clinton expressed the hope that the tsunami reconstruction efforts would be a blessing for the island's peace process. "It is easy to resolve differences between parties when they are working together on specific things, " Clinton said adding that this has proved true based on their experiences in Northern Ireland and the Middle East.

President Bush, particularly concerned about the tourism sector which received a severe battering from the tidal waves, called upon international tourists to visit the affected countries to help them recover soon. "More than contributions it would make a big difference," they said.

Bush Snr and Clinton who are on a high-profile tsunami reconstruction mission representing the US Government and its people arrived in Colombo on Sunday evening. Clinton, the United Nations's designated envoy for tsunami reconstruction for Asia and Bush Snr met President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga the same evening to discuss reconstruction and relief assistance to Sri Lanka.

Security was bolstered in the Southern Province in view of the two Presidents' visit. The military and police stepped up security at the Koggala airstrip and also in Matara where the main road from Koggala to Polathumodera remained closed for a few hours.


The two Presidents were accompanied on their tour of Matara by US Ambassador Jeffrey Lunstead, Deputy Chief of Protocol Geoffrey Eubank, Gene Becker, Chief of Staff of President Bush and Laura Graham, Chief of Staff of President Clinton.

Their much-publicised inspection tour is expected to keep the spotlight on the tsunami hit countries to maintain a continued flow of international assistance as urged by the United Nations.

The two former Presidents visited the Sri Lankan Embassy in Washington to express condolences along with the incumbent President soon after the tsunami tragedy.

An unprecedented seven billion dollars in tsunami aid has been pledged by the international community to date, but Clinton said a further four to five billion would be needed to rebuild homes and basic infrastructure destroyed by the tsunami, which killed at least 288,800 people in 11 countries in Asia and Africa.

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