Good evening ladies and gentlemen.
I am very happy this evening, to welcome the Secretary General of United Nations Mr. Kofi Annan and Mrs. Annan to the Maldives. And we would like to wish them a very pleasant and fruitful stay in the country. I would also like to thank the Secretary General for his gesture in coming to the Maldives at this time of national distress and turmoil. To see first hand what we had suffered on the fateful morning of the twenty sixth December of last year.
We would have wished to welcome the Secretary General at a happier time, to this country and people. Nevertheless, we are very pleased that he is with us. And that he has extended his sympathy and support and the support of the international community to us, in our efforts to provide relief to our stricken people, as well in our efforts for rehabilitation and reconstruction.
I wish the Secretary General and Mrs. Annan a very pleasant and fruitful stay. And I wish both of them to have a pleasant field trip tomorrow, where they will be able to see the worst affected areas of the country by the tsunami of the 26th of December.
I would also like to say, that the UN system has been a key player in the development that the Maldives has been able to achieve over the past thirty years. And the UN remains, a major partner in our development efforts both for now and for the future. And I would also like to thank all the friendly governments and International organizations as well as private organizations and individuals, who have done their part in helping us in this time of need. So, once again let me express our gratitude to the Secretary General, for his presence with us and for his support. And wish him success in his important duties. I must also add that, we in the Maldives are greatly impressed by the manner in which the Secretary General is performing his duties at United Nations. He is a world leader, He is doing his work with distinction. And I would like to express our gratitude to him for that as well.
The UN Secretary General Mr. Kofi Annan:
Thank you very much, Mr. President.
Let me start by offering my condolence and deepest sympathy to those who lost loved ones. And to stress that whilst we need to mourn and grieve for the dead, we also need to think of the survivors and the future.
I am glad that the United Nations has been able to work with you on the relief issue and the recovery, which is extremely important. And this morning, today you have Jim Wolfensohn, the President of the World Bank here, discussing the same issues with you. This is the third country that I have visited since the catastrophe, beginning with Indonesia, Sri Lanka and here. And the reaction of the world to this crisis has been quite unique. There has been outpouring of support for the countries affected. And of course when you look back on the event, where in seven hours the tsunami touched two continents and twelve countries. Some were hit harder than others but they were all hit all the same.
And we as the UN will continue to work with all the countries concerned. We have the responsibility of coordinating the humanitarian response in all the countries concerned. And we take that responsibility very, very seriously. We will of course stay with the countries concerned working with the World Bank, IMF and our other partners, through the recovery and reconstruction phase. But we also hope that in rebuilding, what has been destroyed, one will not just replace what has existed. But try and improve on it, if you wish a recovery plus.
And I was also very happy to hear, Mr. President that the children would be going back to school, very soon. And that attempts are being made to restore all the facilities. Because, when we go through this sort of trauma, going back to school, for children is part of the healing. And I am very happy, that is happening.
I have promised you in the past that I will come and visit. But I didn’t know it will take a tsunami to bring me here. But be as it may, I am very happy to be able to come. And you can count on us as partners as you move ahead to rebuild your society. Thank you very much.
Thank you, very much.