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Bush and Clinton visit Haiti in fund-raising effort

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Bill Clinton and George W Bush meet survivors

Former US Presidents George W Bush and Bill Clinton have been visiting Haiti as part of their fund-raising efforts to aid the earthquake-stricken nation.

They visited camps for some of the 1.3 million homeless survivors and met President Rene Preval.

They said they wanted to attract investment to Haiti and ensure the most was made of aid donations.

The two were asked by President Barack Obama to lead US fundraising after the devastating 12 January earthquake.

At least 220,000 people were killed and large parts of the capital, Port-au-Prince and other towns were levelled in the magnitude 7.0 quake.

Debt forgiven

Many of the survivors are now living in camps and face the prospect of landslides or flooding in the coming rainy season.

"Hopefully, our visit will remind people that Haiti needs help," Mr Bush said.

Camp for homeless earthquake survivors in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 19 March 2010
Worse flooding is expected when Haiti's rainy season begins in earnest

Mr Clinton said: "We know there's still a lot of problems in the camps with sanitation, with moving people to better ground who are not in safe places right now."

He said the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund was working to provide money for seed and fertiliser for farmers, and he pledged to pressure the US Congress to adopt trade legislation to help Haiti's textile industry.

The two former presidents say on their fund's website that they want to "channel the collective goodwill around the globe to help the people of Haiti rebuild their cities, their neighbourhoods, and their families".

The fund has raised $37m (£24.5m) from 200,000 donors, including President Obama, who donated $200,000 from his Nobel Peace Prize award.

Officials have said $11.5bn (£7.6bn) will be needed to rebuild the country and are expected to appeal for that much at a donors' conference in New York on 31 March.

The Inter-American Development Bank said it would relinquish $479m in loans to Haiti and the EU said it would pledge $1.35bn in development aid.

The two former presidents have both played a part in Haiti's recent history. Mr Clinton helped the democratically-elected Jean-Bertrand Aristide return to power in 1994 after he was ousted in a military coup.

And the Bush administration was criticised for not doing enough to help Mr Aristide when a rebellion forced him out of power again in 2004.



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