Poor Nations Ask Rich for Bailout From Economic Crisis

African, Asian and Caribbean countries complained Wednesday that the global economic crisis which they didn't cause was devastating their countries and urged the rich nations responsible for the meltdown to bail them out.

Stepping on to the world stage for the first time since the crisis began in the United States last fall, leaders and ministers from developing countries told a U.N. financial summit that new resources are needed immediately to stem growing poverty and hunger, and prevent social unrest.

Bangladesh's Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, speaking on behalf of the least developed countries, said the crisis is having "a disproportionate negative impact" on the world's poorest people and she warned that "our failure to reverse the economic recession now may unleash a social recession which will be far more difficult to contain."

"These countries will need urgent support from the international community on a sustained basis commensurate with the impact of the crisis," she said.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow of Belize, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community, said economic conditions are the worst since members of the 15-nation trade bloc became independent — and "the shoots of economic recovery that some claim to discern on the landscape of the industrialized world, do not even reach the level of wishful thinking in our small countries."

Commodity prices remain severely depressed, prolonging a decline in export earnings from agriculture, tourism revenues are falling which means myriad job losses, and foreign investment is in retreat, he said.

The Group of 20 key countries that account for over 80 percent of the global economy agreed at a summit in April on a substantial package of financial support totaling $1.1 trillion, with US$50 billion targeted for low income countries.

Barrow said the amounts "are not nearly enough to deal with even part of the more urgent developing country requirements."

South Africa's Minister of International Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said that as a member of the G20 it has been advocating for new and additional resources to enable African economies to sustain growth and reinvigorate global trade.

"When progress, development and stability seems to be going out of the window, poverty, instability and the threat to peace, human rights and development become inevitable," she warned. "The international community must now show the same urgent resolve and determination to assist the developing countries."

All speakers from the developing world backed a bigger U.N. role in tackling the financial crisis — including China's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.

He urged the 142 participating countries to "send out a strong signal that the international community is united as one" in tackling the crisis.

The draft document, expected to be adopted at the end of the three-day summit on Friday, paints a depressing picture of millions of people losing jobs, savings and their homes; more than 50 million additional people driven into extreme poverty, and the prospect of over 1 billion hungry and undernourished people, a historic high.

World Bank Managing Director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said its latest forecasts suggest developing country growth of only 1.2 percent in 2009, compared to 7.7 percent in 2007. And she said current projections indicate that 84 of 109 developing countries would face financing gaps that in most cases couldn't be covered by tapping reserves.

She said the bank has increased lending and backed those calling for urgent efforts to "quench the burning fires of the financial crisis."

The United States, the European Union, and Britain which heads the G20 said they plan to increase aid, but gave no figures.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told the summit "the United States recognizes that we, along with others, bear a share of responsibility for the current crisis."

"The United States understands that we have an economic, security, and moral obligation to extend a hand to the countries and the people who face the greatest risks today," she said, citing U.S. support for substantial increases in resources to boost the emergency lending by the International Monetary Fund and help regional development banks accelerate lending.

"These are challenging times. But the United States remains committed to substantially increasing our own official development assistance, despite the fiscal impact of the current crisis," Rice said.