World Bank clears $13 million to fight bird flu in West Bank and Gaza

(Sep. 22, 2006) The World Bank has approved a $13 million (€10.1 million) grant to help combat the threat of the deadly bird flu in the West Bank and Gaza, the development institution announced Friday.

The money will be used to help minimize any threats of the bird flu posed to people from the area's domestic poultry industry, it said.

The money "will assist the Palestinian Authority to improve their readiness and protect the citizens from a potentially devastating threat as the migration season is around the corner," said Arif Zulfiqar, head of the World Bank's department's that handles grant applications.

The World Bank said that in April the bird flu virus was confirmed across eight locations in Gaza.

"The proximity of outbreaks in neighboring countries, coupled with a large volume of bird migrations, increases the probability of a spread of the virus among domestic poultry and thus places the West Bank and Gaza at high risk," the development bank said.

The virulent H5N1 strain of bird flu has killed at least 144 people worldwide since it started ravaging poultry stocks in Asia three years ago, according to the World Health Organization.

Most of the human deaths from bird flu have been linked to close contact with infected birds, but experts fear the virus could mutate into a form easily spread from person to person and spark a worldwide pandemic.

Of the $13 million being provided in Friday's announcement, $3 million (€2.3 million) is coming from the World Bank's Avian and Human Influenza Facility, a multidonor financing mechanism set up earlier this year, while the remaining $10 million (€7.8 million) is coming from the World Bank's own resources. (from


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