Ex-leaders call for G20 coronavirus summit

Former leaders have joined calls for a G20 summit to help ppoorer nations deal with the coronavirus.
Former leaders have joined calls for a G20 summit to help ppoorer nations deal with the coronavirus.

Scores of former national leaders, health experts and scholars have called for an urgent G20 summit to help poor nations through the crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Some 440 million more people face poverty and 265 million face malnutrition due to the developing economic crisis brought by the pandemic, said 225 signatories of an open letter on Tuesday.

They included former British prime ministers Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and John Major; former German foreign minister Joschka Fischer; and former UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon.

The group said the G20, scheduled to meet in November, must convene sooner "because only a fraction of 2.5 trillion dollars needed by poorer countries has been distributed,"

They urged the G20 to unlock $US80 million ($A120 million) in debt relief for poor nations, and pledge an extra one trillion ($A1.5 trillion) to help countries struggling with health emergencies plus $US7 billion ($A10.5 billion) dollars by Thursday for a global immunisation fund.

"Representing, as it does, 85 per cent of the world's nominal GDP, the G20 has the capacity to lead the mobilization of resources on the scale required," said the group, which also included former German finance minister Hans Eichel and former Austrian chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel.

"Without a G20 leaders' meeting online soon, and certainly long before the end of November, a vacuum in global leadership will open up just at the time when we need global action most," Brown said.

He warned that inaction risked "a second wave of Covid coming out of the poorest countries."

Australian Associated Press