World Bank suspends funding for DR Congo

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World Bank suspends funding for DR Congo

The World Bank has suspended funding for humanitarian and development projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo, more than Sh137.3 billion after the government dissolved the project, the lender said.

The suspension will affect over 600,000 beneficiaries, including victims of sexual violence, the World Bank said last week in a letter seen by Reuters. A World Bank spokeswoman confirms the authenticity of the report by the World Bank.

The letter also said that the bank was still waiting for documentation on the status of Sh12.49 billion, which had already been advanced for the projects out of the total of Sh137.3 billion.

On 4 May, Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi dissolved the structure by Presidential Order and created a new public fund.

The change was due to the evolution of the legal framework governing public institutions, he said.

In a letter dated May 12, the World Bank's director of operations for the country, Albert Zeufack, said the institution had found out about the decision in the press.

A Congolese finance ministry spokeswoman said he was waiting for the go-ahead from the president before he could comment.

Tina Salama, the presidential spokeswoman, denied any suspension of funding and said transitional management would be possible.

Denis Mukwege, a Congolese gynaecologist, who won the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize for his work with sexual abuse victims, is one of the fund's beneficiaries.

It's a disaster for the victims, Mukwege said. He said he was warned a few days before expenses incurred on his programme would stop being reimbursed. The programme coordinator said that he had to turn victims away.

The abrupt decision to change the financing structure was an example of poor governance, said Valery Madianga, head of a Congolese organisation specialising in public finance auditing.

He added that there was nothing wrong with the president's decision.

Four of its main opposition politicians wrote to the leaders of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the African Development Bank last week asking them to conduct an audit of their funds in Congo, saying they suspected misuse.