IMF to Provide $100 Million in Debt Relief for Ebola-Hit Nations

The IMF said it will provide close to $100 million in debt relief for Ebola-hit countries and is considering another $160 million in loans as they try to repair economies ravaged by the outbreak.

The amounts of the debt-relief grants from the International Monetary Fund to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea will be subject to approval from the International Monetary Fund’s board, the lender said in a statement on Thursday. It’s the first international institution to offer debt relief to the three nations, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said. The aid follows approval of $130 million in loans for the countries in September.

Ebola remains a global health emergency, the United Nations said in January as it sought $1 billion in aid to fight the outbreak that has infected more than 22,000 people and killed at least 8,800. New cases of the Ebola virus rose in the week that ended Feb. 1 for the first time this year in the three West African countries that have been ravaged by the virus.

The uptick underscores the concerns of public-health workers that the virus could make a comeback if the effort to contain the disease starts to flag. The wet season is approaching in the region, making aid workers’ jobs tougher as remote areas become more difficult to access, according to the World Health Organization.

The IMF’s latest aid follows a commitment announced in November at a Group of 20 summit to make available $300 million to stem the outbreak and ease pressures on the three countries through a combination of concessional loans, debt relief and grants.

The fund said Thursday it would provide the debt-relief grants through a new Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust to provide support to countries confronting natural disasters, epidemics and other catastrophes.

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