Virus-hit Afghanistan gets $200-million World Bank grant

Agence France-Presse
World Bank funds will be used to help mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Afghanistan's war-ravaged economy

FOR SALE. A street vendor selling face masks waits for customers in Kabul, Afghanistan, on June 18, 2020. Photo by Wakil Kohsar/AFP

KABUL, Afghanistan – 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 program 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, July 9.

Afghanistan has so far declared just over 34,000 cases of COVID-19, 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 Agence France-Presse on Friday, July 10.

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

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

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