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Financial crisis weighs on aid meeting -

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LISA MILLAR: The world's financial troubles are casting a gloomy cloud over a meeting of political
and philanthropic leaders who've gathered at the UN to review the progress on the Millennium
Development Goals.

They've recommitted themselves to reducing global poverty, with pledges of $16-billion in aid and
there have new commitments on malaria and education.

But some leaders say with the finance markets in meltdown, it's a folly to talk of increasing aid
for the poor.

Ashley Hall reports.

ASHLEY HALL: Outside the meeting of world leaders and philanthropists at the United Nations General
Assembly, actors and musicians launched a new campaign to end world poverty.

It was a star-studded event, attracting the likes of Australian model Elle Macpherson, musicians
from the Black Eyed Peas and Kristin Davis, an actor from the TV series Sex and the City

The group's spokesman Kumi Naidoo summed up their views:

KUMI NAIDOO: When we look at the money that we are asking for, it's a fraction, one tenth at most
of the $700-billion bail-out package that magically seems to have been found to address the crisis
caused by the greed and bordering on corruption on the part of bankers in the United States and

ASHLEY HALL: The global financial crisis and how much it will cost to solve is also weighing
heavily on those minds inside the meeting.

France's Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner says it's "sort of unfair" to be talking about poverty
goals when Western countries are battling a credit crisis.

He says he'll be making no new commitments to help, and that it would be lying to promise people
more money for development in a time of financial crisis.

But the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is having none of that.

GORDON BROWN: This would be the worst time to turn back. Every global problem we have requires
global solutions involving all the continents of the world.

ASHLEY HALL: Spain's Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero agrees.

JOSE LUIS RODRIGUEZ ZAPATERO (translated): We cannot excuse non-fulfilment of our obligations
because of the market situation. We cannot find the excuse of any circumstances to evade our
commitments. It is not just a question of ethical, non-replaceable aims. It is a question of acting
with responsibility, stability and international equilibrium.

ASHLEY HALL: The Millennium Development Goals aim to end poverty and to improve education, health
and environmental outcomes for the world's poorest.

In a range of measures, there have been improvements recorded in many of the Goal's target areas
especially in Asia and Latin America.

New data from the World Bank suggests the number of people in extreme poverty is expected to fall
by half by 2015

But the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon says not a single African country is on track to reach all
of its targets.

BAN KI-MOON: While we are moving in the right direction, we are not moving quickly enough.
Subsahara (phonetic) in Africa actually saw the number of poor increase between 1990 and 2005.
Women and girls suffer persistent bias and neglect evidenced by disturbing gender gaps in health,
education, employment and empowerment.

The current financial crisis threatens the well-being of billions of people. None more so than the
poorest of the poor. This only compounds the damage being caused by much higher prices for food and

ASHLEY HALL: So far, there have been pledges of about $16-billion in aid.

The founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates has pledged more than $170-million to a three billion campaign
to eradicate malaria by 2015.

He's talking up the benefits of philanthropists, private business interests and governments working
together to meet the Millennium Goals.

BILL GATES: So the opportunities for innovation are incredible and the Millennium Development Goals
can guide the search for new discoveries by showing us where innovation can bring the biggest

ASHLEY HALL: The United Nations has also announced a new initiative to strengthen health systems to
decrease the number of women who die in childbirth.

But the Executive Director of Oxfam Australia Andrew Hewitt says the problem with these summits is
few countries deliver on their pledges.

ANDREW HEWITT: The world's leaders have not put the money where people's mouths are. The fight
against poverty has unfortunately gone backwards in the last year or two.

Aid promises have not been delivered upon. The food price crisis is causing more than 100 million
more people to go to bed hungry every night and the effects of climate change are exacerbating
poverty around the world

LISA MILLAR: Andrew Hewitt, the executive director of Oxfam Australia, ending Ashley Hall's report.