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U.S. senator introduces bill backing Sudan access to international funding to fight COVID-19

May 21, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - A senior U.S. senator introduced legislation allowing the US Treasury to back Sudan efforts to get the support of international financial institutions to fight the coronavirus.

Senator Bob Menendez (Reuters photo)Senator Bob Menendez, a ranking member of the influential Foreign Relations Committee, said in a bill he lodged on 7 May that the coronavirus pandemic could overwhelm Sudan’s health system and affects its fragile economy.

He further said that its considerable arrears prevent Sudan from getting needed funds to fight the COVID-19 from the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the African Development Bank.

"Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary of the Treasury may instruct the United States executive director of an international financial institution to use the voice and vote of the United States to support assistance by such institution, including any loan, credit, or guarantee, for Sudan, provided that such assistance must be related to Sudan’s response or recovery from the COVID–19 pandemic," reads the bill.

Sudan’s presence in the State Sponsors of Terrorism list prevents the U.S. administration from supporting any request from the east African country to the three international financial institutions.

Washington says willing to remove Sudan from the blacklist but it has appeared that its failure to pay compensations for the victims of terror attacks freezes the process.

Last April, the World Bank approved $1.9 billion in emergency funds for coronavirus response in 25 developing countries including India. Further, The bank announced that preparations are going on to spend up to $160 billion over the next 15 months to combat the pandemic.

Sudan, along with Eritrea and Zimbabwe, is ineligible for recently announced aid from the World Bank because of those arrears.

Sudan debt is about $60 billion.

Last April, UN Secretary-General canned on the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to show flexibility and to grant Sudan exceptional access to financial instruments established to assist developing countries to respond to the challenges of COVID-19