x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Beyoncé, Madonna and Clooney lead Haiti fundraiser

Celebrities around the world unite in a global push to raise money for the victims of disaster stricken Haiti with a superstar line-up giving their time and money.

Beyoncé is helping the cause.
Beyoncé is helping the cause.

ABU DHABI // Celebrities around the world united in a global push yesterday to raise money for the victims of disaster stricken Haiti with a superstar line-up giving their time and money. More than 100 of the biggest names in film, television and music were due to take part in events in New York, London and Los Angeles as part of Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief, which hopes to raise millions of dollars for Oxfam America, Partners in Health, Red Cross, Unicef and the Yéle Haiti Foundation.

The singers Beyoncé and Madonna were among a long list of stars putting their names to the campaign for the devastated population of Haiti, which has already seen an estimated 200,000 deaths since the earthquake earlier this month. George Clooney, the actor, helped organise the two-hour telethon which was due to be broadcast to an audience of tens of millions across the world in what organisers said would be the most widely distributed telethon in history.

In an interview with the television network MTV, Mr Clooney said he had spent three days preparing for the global fund raising effort. "It's first getting networks together, getting phone lines, phone banks, charitable organisations together and finding the way to get the money to them. It's a long process of making deals and trying to get things done," he said. He added that the priority was to raise money and get help, however slow the process was. The amount of attention on Haiti he said, would help the cause, but it was important to continue efforts to help those living in the aftermath of one of the worst natural disasters of the last century. "First and foremost, it needs money to fix things," he said.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Clooney have both donated US$1 million (Dh3.7m) to the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, formed by the former US presidents, Bill Clinton and George W Bush. About 140 celebrities, athletes and television hosts, including Daniel Day Lewis and rapper Wyclef Jean, himself a Haitian American, had been drafted in to answer phones for people calling to make pledges. Clooney hosted the Los Angeles event which was due to include Alicia Keys, Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake. Bruce Springsteen, Sting and Mary J Blige were due to perform in the New York show, which will be hosted by Jean, while Beyoncé was set to join her husband Jay-Z, Rhianna and U2's Bono and The Edge in London.

Tom Hanks, Clint Eastwood, Denzel Washington, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman were just some of the celebrities due to participate in the US events. Other stars who have already donated include Sandra Bullock, who gave $1m, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, who also donated $1m, and model Gisele Bundchen who gave $1.5m. Viewers in the emirates can see Hope For Haiti Now on National Geographic Abu Dhabi at 9pm tonight, but footage of the events are also being shown on the internet.

MTV, the co-producer of the show, said the event would be broadcast on television networks across the globe. In Britain, an internet auction of items such as the Coldplay singer Chris Martin's signed Viva la Vida tour jacket began yesterday for the Oxfam Haiti Appeal and will run for 10 days. Coldplay, along with Robbie Williams and Sir Paul McCartney among other artists, have reportedly been approached to sing on a Haiti charity single being organised by Simon Cowell, the multimillionaire pop impresario.

mswan@thenational.ae