...for the hundreds, thousands, yes millions of individuals and organisations throughout the world who have responded so quickly and in so many different ways to the urgent needs of the people of Haiti. The generosity of spirit shown, whether it is in the act of donating money or of taking part in relief work, is truly impressive.

And yesterday afternoon, in as important a symbolic act as they could possibly have undertaken, former US Presidents Bush and Clinton responded to President Obama's request to them to lead a relief effort to aid the earthquake victims.

The United States has a particular interest in Haiti's welfare, partly though geographical proximity and partly because of a not always easy political relationship. It was encouraging therefore to hear Bill Clinton yesterday emphasizing the need for both short- and long-term aid to Haiti. Its people have had a rough deal almost since they achieved independence at the start of the 19th century and they are owed the chance of a new start after this latest setback. Perhaps the two former Presidents can think of a way of retaining the world's interest and action in Haiti when the nightmare of the present has passed.

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