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World Bank to give Afghanistan $520 mn credit

WASHINGTON: The World Bank on Tuesday said it had approved a $520 million plan to help Afghanistan, which has been weakened by the Taliban insurgency and gradual withdrawal of US troops.

Almost half of the amount, given in the form of grants, will be dedicated to supporting people displaced by the violence in the country and those returning from exile in neighboring Pakistan, the bank said in a statement.

The rest will be allocated to anti-poverty reforms aimed at “increasing economic opportunities” by developing the private sector and improving power supply to households and businesses in the province of Herat.

More than fifteen years after the start of the US anti-Taliban offensive in Afghanistan — officially ended in 2014 — the country remains in deep crisis amid rampant poverty, instability and the ongoing exit of NATO troops.

“The international troop withdrawal, begun in 2011, coupled with political uncertainties, have resulted in a slowdown of economic growth, while government budget pressures are increasing as security threats mount and drive people from their homes,” the bank said.

The International Monetary Fund expressed concern over the county’s dire economic situation in late January. One of the world’s poorest nations, Afghanistan is struggling to absorb some 700,000 returning refugees.

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