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Home Publications Blogs Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch Sean Penn: Agencies Must Spend Money Allocated to Them, Act Decisively Ahead of Rainy Season

Sean Penn: Agencies Must Spend Money Allocated to Them, Act Decisively Ahead of Rainy Season

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Friday, 09 April 2010 09:52
On CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 last night they looked at relocation plans, asking the important question, why have things moved so slowly? First CNN correspondent Gary Tuchman travels to the first planned relocation site, which will open on Sunday. Tuchman asks a member of the presidential task force why things have taken so long:
"It ought to be done faster. But you have to coordinate it with the U.S. Army, the Corps of Engineers, with the U.N. people, with the European community, with the Oxfam, all a bunch of actors, together."
After Tuchman's report from the ground, Anderson Cooper speaks with actor/activist Sean Penn. Penn warns of a coming catastrophe if relocation efforts are not undertaken urgently, and expresses surprise that, "so many of the aid organizations are so overextended and that the completion of one project is -- is difficult to task."

Asked about the UN meetings and what is preventing efforts from moving faster, Penn responded:
Well, it's a problem of bureaucracy, and it's also a problem of breaking through the glass in front of our own face and seeing just how real this concern is.

There's -- there's always a balance between the arguments for the perfect plan versus a decisiveness. And I think that you could find me clearly on the side of decisiveness, that as long as we make all efforts to -- certainly to be very honest with the people, to let them know what their option is, whether it relates to aid incentives or in terms of the danger, the risk that they are at by staying where they are, that at that point it is their option, that our prerogative is to provide an area where people may very well die if the rains get heavy, have an opportunity to live and then a lot more organization will have to go into that to get to the future.

But I -- you know, this is a disaster period where decisive action has to be taken. And this is a country that had minimal health care to begin with. And hospitals are being allowed to close, despite all the enormous funds that internationally and in the United States that people have put forward.

And I think it's time that they demand of the agencies to whom they've given the money, that they release those monies and spend them decisively. It's a six-month period. It has to be looked at as an emergency.
Penn was also asked about recent reports of hospitals closing despite the amount of follow-up care still needed:
Well, it's not only those that -- the follow-up care; it's also the care for the impending issues that are coming.

The reason that they're closing is because, in general, when you have these kinds of funds, the organizations themselves will contract and spend money on evaluators. That takes time. The negotiations take time.

And hospitals close while those negotiations go on before evaluations are ever made. And the hospitals run out of money after having not been able to pay staffs that have been working 12- and more hour shifts for all of these months and months before the earthquake happened.

And all of these agencies are aware of it, and they let it happen. They let it close. And if people die, the blood is on their hands.


Tags: aid distribution | ngos | rainy season | relocation

 

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