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Tuesday, 28 January, 2003, 22:39 GMT
Argentine families win support
Protestors in Buenos Aires
Protestors in Buenos Aires called for government help
The World Bank has approved a $600m (365m) loan to struggling Argentine families, aimed at providing immediate relief to poor and unemployed households.

The bank said the loan is to support the "Heads of Household" programme in Argentina, where a four year recession has led to almost 20% unemployment in the country's workforce.

The bank said 1.85million people should benefit from the programme.

"Since the beginning of the crisis, we have been deeply concerned about the impact on the poorest sector of society of the dramatic increases in poverty and unemployment," said Axel van Trotsenburg, the World Bank director.

Road to recovery?

Unemployment in Argentina, now in its fifth year of recession, has reached 21.5% in May 2002 according to figures from the bank.

But the World Bank said the level was twice as high in poor homes.

Earlier this month, Argentina secured a new financing agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) after years of stalled discussions, which allowed it breathing space to pay overdue loans.

The World Bank's $600m loan is repayable in 15 years and the first $100m will be allocated specifically for small towns.

See also:

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