Sean Penn Says World Deserted Haiti

"The reason we have Haiti fatigue is because there was never a commitment in the first place,” Penn says from Cannes

By Cathy Rainone
|  Friday, May 18, 2012  |  Updated 11:42 AM PDT
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Actor Sean Penn and model Petra Nemcova spoke out on Haiti from Cannes.

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Sean Penn blames the world for abandoning earthquake-ravaged Haiti following the attention it received in January 2010.

"It's not only celebrities who went [to Haiti] for a day," Penn said on the sidelines of the Cannes Film Festival, according to The Wrap. "It's the whole f—ing world. It's all of you. The reason we have Haiti fatigue is because there was never a commitment in the first place.”

Penn, who went to Haiti immediately following the earthquake is CEO of the J/P Haitian Relief Organization, which manages two camps that are home to about 18,000 people and has rebuilt homes, schools and hospitals. The earthquake devastated the island nation, flattening thousands of buildings, killing more than 300,000 people and making at least 1.5 million homeless, according to The Associated Press.

Penn spends at least half his time in Haiti and the actor-activist is the first non-Haitian to be designated an ambassador at-large for Haiti’s newly elected president, Michel Joseph Martelly.

Speaking at a press conference in Cannes, Penn also urged President Barack Obama to meet with Martelly.

"It's time our elegant and formidable president stood side by side [with Martelly]," he said.

Penn's comments come a month after he received an award for his work in Haiti at the 12th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates.

"He actually exchanged his home in Malibu for a tent," United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Udo Janz said in introducing Penn to accept the award, according to the AP. "Think of it as the Oscar for your humanitarian commitment Sean."

Despite the scathing criticism, Penn said at Friday’s press conference that things have improved in Haiti.

"You see the very tangible success story that Haiti can be," Penn said.

Joining Penn at the news conference was Czech supermodel Petra Nemcova and film director Paul Haggis, who each have non-profit organizations working in Haiti.

Penn and fashion designer Giorgio Armani will host a fundraising gala dinner for victims of Haiti’s earthquake Friday night in Cannes, according to The Wrap.

Selected Reading: The Wrap, AP, E!
 

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