Paul Morigi/Getty Images
Cailey Rizzo
September 19, 2017

Robert De Niro appeared at the United Nations on Monday, September 18. He implored the organization to help rebuild the island of Barbuda and to ensure that “paradise is not lost.”

Immediately after Hurricane Irma devastated the island, De Niro announced his efforts to help rebuild Barbuda, where 90 percent of buildings were damaged. It’s also where he plans to open a resort, the Paradise Found Nobu.

“We are beyond saddened to learn of the devastation in Barbuda caused [by] Hurricane Irma and look forward to working with the Paradise Found Nobu team, the Barbuda Council, GOAB, and the entire Barbuda community to successfully rebuild what nature has taken away from us,” De Niro said in a statement to the New York Daily News after the hurricane.

In his speech to the UN, De Niro said that the countries of the world “must act together to help the most vulnerable.” He continued his plea, saying that “the recovery process will be a long, hard road. Barbudans must be a part of it, their homes repaired stronger, rebuilt stronger, new homes stronger. The immediate needs — power, water, food, medical care, animals sheltered — must be met.”

The island, as it is right now, is uninhabitable, according to government officials. Estimates place the cost of rebuilding Barbuda at $300 million: more than 20 percent of the country’s GDP.

Related: Robert De Niro is Opening a Luxury Hotel in London

De Niro and his business partner, James Packer, bought the K Club Resort on Barbuda last year and renamed it Paradise Found Nobu. The purchase was a contentious debate on the island. More than 300 of the island’s 1,500 residents signed a petition against the development, saying that it was excessive and illegal.

Construction on the resort is on hold in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. De Niro did not say how the resort was affected by the storm.

Upon completion, the resort plans to establish a “beautification project for Barbuda,” which will include the construction of a donkey sanctuary, transforming a government house into a museum, and hiring a contractor to complete a sustainable development plan for the island, according to the island’s ambassador.

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