The IMF board on Wednesday approved $220 million in emergency aid for Afghanistan to help the country deal with the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. "The pandemic is inflicting heavy damage on Afghanistan's economy, which is expected to contract sharply in 2020, imperilling the livelihood of a significant segment of the population," the IMF said in a statement.
The funds from the Washington-based crisis lender will "help meet the urgent" financing needs as the authorities boost critical health spending and roll out social assistance to households hit hard by the crisis. War-ravaged Afghanistan will see its economy contract this year "leading to a rise in unemployment and poverty."
The loan comes from the IMF's Rapid Credit Facility, which has been ramped up and doubled in size to get aid quickly to the world's poorest nations, which are most vulnerable to the economic effects of shutdowns to contain the outbreak. A country can receive up to two loans from the facility in a 12-month period, pay zero interest and take 10 years to repay, with the first payment not due for five-and-a-half years.
IMF Managing Director Kristina Georgieva said the fund has received over 100 requests for aid from its members, and developing countries will need about $2.5 trillion to deal with the impacts of the pandemic.