Clinton and Bono say crisis no excuse to ignore poverty

Wed Sep 24, 2008 6:48pm EDT
 
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By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. financial crisis making global waves is no excuse for governments and companies to walk away from helping the world's poor, former U.S. President Bill Clinton and rocker Bono said on Wednesday.

As Congress debates a White House-proposed $700 billion bailout for the worst financial crisis since the Depression of the 1930s, Bono questioned why wealthy countries had not been able to come up with enough aid for the world's problems.

"It is extraordinary to me that you can find $700 billion to save Wall Street and the entire G8 can't find $25 billion to save 25,000 children who die every day of preventable treatable disease and hunger," the U2 lead singer told Clinton's fourth annual philanthropic summit in New York. "That's mad, that is mad."

"This crisis is not an excuse to walk away from the world's challenges, but a compelling reason to intensify our efforts to meet them, around the corner and around the world," said Clinton, who has focused on humanitarian work since leaving the White House in 2001.

The Group of Eight wealthy nations vowed in 2005 to raise annual aid levels $50 billion by 2010, $25 billion of which was to go to Africa. But under current spending plans, the G8 will fall $40 billion short, according to a June report by the Africa Progress Panel set up to monitor implementation.

"Bankruptcy is a serious business and we all know people who have lost their jobs," Bono said, referring to the bankruptcy declared by Wall Street investment bank Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. "But this is moral bankruptcy."

More than 130 chief executives are mixing with world leaders, humanitarians and celebrities such as performer Barbra Streisand and singer Bob Geldof at the three-day Clinton Global Initiative, which started on Wednesday.

The summit seeks to address global problems in education, energy and climate change, health care and poverty. Experts have warned the financial crisis would likely hurt charitable efforts by individuals and corporations.

(Editing by Daniel Trotta and Peter Cooney)

 
<p>Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore (R) listens to Bono during the Clinton Global Initiative, in New York, September 24, 2008. Established by former President Bill Clinton in 2005, the event is designed to bring donors together with people in need to try to solve global problems. REUTERS/Chip East</p>