Sean Penn appeals to Obama at Cannes Haiti fundraiser

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Actor and activist Sean Penn urged US President Barack Obama to step up his support for Haiti as he hosted a Cannes fundraiser to help the country recover from the devastating 2010 quake.

Dubbed Carnival in Cannes, the star-studded party is being held on the sides of the Riviera filmfest jointly with Italian couturier Giorgio Armani. Proceeds will go to three aid groups: Sean Penn's J/P Haitian Relief Organization, Artists for Peace and Justice, and Happy Heart's Fund.

Penn, who has been named Ambassador at Large for Haiti, called on Obama to support his Haitian counterpart Michel Martelly as he tries to ramp up stalled reconstruction efforts.

"It is time that our very elegant and formidable president of the United States stands side by side with this new hope incarnated by Michel Martelly," he told a press conference ahead of the party.

More than two years after the devastating January 12, 2010 earthquake that flattened large parts of Port-au-Prince and damaged much of the south of the country, he stressed the situation for many Haitians remains horrific.

The magnitude 7.0 quake killed 250,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands. According to UN figures, the quake killed, injured or displaced one in six of the Caribbean nation's entire population of almost 10 million.

"There is a human obligation to help," Penn said, citing education and roads as key priorities for the blighted nation.

"But finally the key will be creating jobs, jobs that will create a middle-class and push us out of the country except to be tourists. This is ultimately the goal."

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