Page last updated at 16:08 GMT, Monday, 18 May 2009 17:08 UK

World Bank resumes Zimbabwe aid

Hyperinflation in Zimbabwe
The Zimbabwean economy has been ravaged by the effects of hyperinflation

The World Bank has agreed to give Zimbabwe $22m (£14.4m), its first assistance to the heavily-indebted African country since 2000.

Zimbabwe has been appealing for $8.5bn to rebuild its broken economy after forming a unity government in February.

The World Bank said the relatively small amount of money was "a first step". More could be forthcoming when Zimbabwe begins to clear its arrears.

It owes the World Bank and the African Development Bank more than $1bn.

The money will be available in the next few weeks.

"The first task is to see how Zimbabwe can get on with debt reduction," said the World Bank's Toga Gayewea McIntosh.

Zimbabwe's finance minister, Tendai Biti, said the government would work with the World Bank on a debt reduction plan.

Since suspending its lending programme to Zimbabwe when it went into arrears in 2000, the World Bank has limited its support to "technical assistance and analytical work".

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