Afghanistan launches new COVID-19 relief package

The Afghan government has launched a new COVID-19 relief program as part of its efforts to help households facing economic hardship due to the ongoing pandemic.

Speaking at the launch event on Saturday, President Ashraf Ghani said that 90 per cent of the population in the country is living below the poverty line and that the new package will cover 90 per cent of households, reports TOLO News.

Based on the program, in the first stage, the government will allocate $86 million and then $158 million in the second phase to provide food to people across the country.

The first stage will cover over 1.7 million families in 13,000 villages in 34 provinces of the country.

“If we collect both figures, over 90 per cent of the population in Afghanistan will benefit from the package, the second phase will cost $158 million,” said Amrullah Saleh, the first vice president of Afghanistan.

“Still there are serious dangers, therefore we all need to take the guidelines seriously,” said Mohammad Sarwar Danish, the second vice president of Afghanistan, referring to the dangers of COVID-19.

In May, the government had announced a free bread distribution program to the needy people in Kabul and in the provinces.

The initiative was designed to provide aid through the city’s bakeries to those in need during the lockdown.

But later on, the needy families claimed that the program was compromised by corruption, said the TOLO News report.

According to the Ministry of Finance, the bread distribution process in the first phase cost Afs2.8 billion ($36 million), of which Afs1.15 billion ($14.8 million) was spent in Kabul.

Based on the statistics, 38 per cent of the population in Afghanistan was living under the poverty line in 2014 when Ghani became President.

The figure rose to 55 per cent in 2017.

So far, Afghanistan has reported 35,301 COVID-19 cases, with 1,164 deaths.

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