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World Bank sounds alarm on growing poverty, calls for aid

The World Bank and IMF have warned that the financial crisis could plunge 100 million people into extreme poverty this year, and urged donor countries to increase their aid to the developing world.

Anat, only one name available, smiles as she brings home potable water at the shanty town of Klipton, Johannesburg, South Africa, Friday Aug. 23, 2002.

The poor could become yet poorer if the wealthy don't step up, global lenders warn

In the wake of a meeting between the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, World Bank chief Robert Zoellick warned of a "human catastrophe" in the world's poorest countries unless more is done to tackle the global economic crisis.

At the end of the World Bank and IMF spring meetings in Washington, DC, Zoellick called on rich nations to do more to help tackle global poverty.

Robert Zoellick, President of the World Bank (WB), speaks at a press conference at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Headquarters in Washington DC, USA, 23 April 2009

World Bank's Zoellick warned of a "catastrohe"

A statement from the meeting read: "More needs to be done as the crisis unfolds further. ... We urged all donors to accelerate delivery of commitments to increase aid, and for all of us to consider going beyond existing commitments."

IMF: donors should "go beyond"

The promise of more aid comes as many countries this weekend pointed to signs that the economic downturn may finally be easing. The Group of Seven and an IMF committee both suggested there was now some light at the end of the tunnel.

Pledges of aid by countries, including by the Group of 20 countries at a London summit earlier this month, should be delivered, the IMF committee said.

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, right, Egyptian Finance Minister Youssef Boutros-Ghali, center, who serves as chairman of the International Monetary and Financial Committee, and IMF First Deputy Managing Director John Lipsky, far left, meet with reporters during a news conference at the end of the day's meetings at IMF headquarters in Washington, Saturday, April 25, 2009.

IMF's Strauss-Kahn, right, praised the stimulus agreement

"We urged all donors to accelerate delivery of commitments to increase aid, and for us all to consider going beyond existing commitments," the committee said.

Strauss-Kahn stresses harmony

On Saturday, IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn said all the parties were content with fiscal stimulus measures that had been introduced to fight the financial crisis, and that there was no longer any major disagreement on how to tackle the problems.

"Everybody is happy with what has been done on fiscal stimulus ... all agree on the absolute necessity of cleansing the financial system," Strauss-Kahn said.

As the magnitude of the worst global slump since the 1930s became clear throughout 2008 and the beginning of this year, various governments took different positions on how much money they should spend - and how much new debt they should create - to get their economies going again.

Exit strategy still in question

The United States advocated spending any amount necessary while Europe, and especially Germany, were reluctant to commit ever more funds, preferring to wait and evaluate the effectiveness of initial steps.

Strauss-Kahn said the IMF had been right to stress the need to clear toxic assets from banks's balance sheets, adding that there could be no recovery as long as banks shied away from lending.

Differences now, he said, centered on what exit strategies should be used over the next three or four years to break free of the crisis.

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