Virus-hit Afghanistan gets $200m WB grant

Agence France-Presse . Kabul | Published: 23:11, Jul 10,2020


The World Bank has approved $200 million in aid to help Afghanistan tackle economic losses from the coronavirus pandemic, as confirmed cases top more than 34,000 in the conflict zone.

The country’s war-ravaged economy has been severely impacted due to a months-long lockdown, with thousands of people losing their jobs in the economic fallout.

Afghanistan has also grappled with increased militant violence in recent months that has diverted vital attention and resources away from the fight against the disease.

‘The programme will provide vital fiscal resources to manage the impacts of the pandemic in the context of rapidly slowing economic growth and declining government revenues,’ Henry Kerali, the World Bank head for Afghanistan said in a statement on Thursday.

Afghanistan has so far declared just over 34,000 cases of COVID19, with nearly 1,000 deaths.

‘In the cities, the cases are steady but we are worried the cases may spread in rural areas,’ Abdul Qadir, a senior official at the health ministry told AFP on Friday.

Qadir said that the World Bank funds would be used to help mitigate the impact on healthcare, social and business sectors.

The virus first spread to Afghanistan as infected migrants returned from neighbouring Iran, the region’s worst-hit country.

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