September 18, 2014 / 6:54 AM / 5 years ago

IMF proposes $127 mln for three Ebola-hit countries in W.Africa

Health workers remove the body of Prince Nyentee, a 29-year-old man whom local residents said died of Ebola virus in Monrovia September 11, 2014. REUTERS/James Giahyue

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone could receive an additional $127 million from the International Monetary Fund to help them deal with the worst-ever outbreak of the Ebola virus, the IMF said on Wednesday.

The funds, which must still be approved by the IMF’s executive board, would help cover an estimated $300 million financing gap in the West African countries over the next six to nine months, when the IMF expects the impact of the outbreak to be most acute.

“The Ebola outbreak is a severe human, social and economic crisis that requires a resolute response from the international community,” IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said in a statement. “The governments of the three countries have requested additional IMF support to help cover the acute financing needs they are facing as a result of the outbreak.”

The IMF on Wednesday proposed a $40 million loan for Guinea, $48 million for Liberia and $39 million for Sierra Leone. It has said economic growth in Liberia and Sierra Leone has been hurt in particular by the epidemic’s impact on agriculture, mining and the services sectors. [ID:nL1N0RC17U]

The fund called on other countries and multilateral agencies to provide budget support for the three countries. At least 40 percent of their financing needs remain unfilled based on pledges so far, though the figures are preliminary, a senior IMF official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are among the poorest countries in the region and the hardest-hit by the worst Ebola epidemic since 1976, which has killed nearly 2,500 people.

The proposed funds would represent an expansion of the three countries’ current IMF loan programs. Guinea already has a $200 million program from the IMF while Liberia is getting about $80 million from the fund and Sierra Leone has an IMF program of about $96 million.

Reporting by Anna Yukhananov, editing by G Crosse and Tom Brown

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