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World Bank grants Mozambique $100 mln funding for COVID-19 response

MAPUTO, Oct 23 (Reuters) - The World Bank has granted Mozambique funding of $100 million through its International Development Association program to assist the southern African nation with its response to COVID-19.

The World Bank said in a statement late on Thursday the financing was aimed at mitigating the adverse impacts of the pandemic on people’s livelihoods.

Mozambique has so far recorded nearly 12,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 81 deaths. But the state’s response to the disease has been hampered by intensifying violence by militants with links to Islamic State in the northern regions.

Militant attacks in gas-rich Cabo Delgado province, near the border with Tanzania, began in 2017. The violence gathered pace in 2020, with insurgents seizing key towns for brief periods and hitting military and other key targets.

Last month the United Nation’s World Food Program (WFP) said over 300,000 people had fled Cabo Delgado to neighbouring provinces, and that at least $4.7 million per month was needed to assist those internally displaced by the fighting.

The World Bank said the funds would be used for improving health services, access to water for the urban poor and increasing the reach of social safety nets.

“The COVID-19 outbreak reached Mozambique at a particularly weak moment as the country attempted to recover from major shocks, including the debt crisis and the devastating effects of recent cyclones, which makes this operation timely and critical,” said lead economist at the lender Carolin Geginat.

Reporting by Manuel Mucari; writing by Mfuneko Toyana; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama