The United Nations is calling for more flexibility from developed countries in easing the growing debt burden of poorer states.
“I think it does not take much imagination to understand that this debt crisis threatens to spill over to an entrenched sustainable development crisis …,” said the head of the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, Achim Steiner.
He said there was a fear that affected countries, particularly in Africa and Latin America, would no longer be able to afford spending to cope with the coronavirus pandemic or to meet sustainable development and climate goals.
In a report published on Tuesday, UNDP identified 54 developing countries with a serious debt problem.
They represent little more than 3 per cent of the global economy, but accounted for more than 5 per cent of people living in extreme poverty.
“Given the global outlook of low growth and high interest rates, the international community must urgently step-up debt relief efforts to avert a deepening development crisis,” the report said.
The worst affected countries, it said, were Chad, Zambia and Ethiopia as well as Sri Lanka and Pakistan.