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The World Bank has announced the suspension of over Sh137.3 billion ($1 billion) in funding for humanitarian and development projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This decision follows the unexpected dissolution of the project fund by the Congolese government, as revealed in a letter to Congo’s finance minister. The suspension is anticipated to impact more than 600,000 beneficiaries, including victims of sexual violence. According to a World Bank spokesperson, the letter outlining the suspension and its implications for beneficiaries was sent to the finance minister last week.

In the letter, the World Bank expressed concerns about the sudden governmental move, emphasizing its lack of prior information on the decision to dissolve the “Social Fund of the Democratic Republic of Congo.” The Congolese President, Felix Tshisekedi, issued a presidential order on May 4 to dissolve the structure and create another public fund. The reason cited was “the evolution of the legal framework governing public institutions,” as per his statement.

Albert Zeufack, the World Bank’s director of operations for the country, stated in the letter dated May 12 that the institution learned about the decision through the press. He highlighted the necessity for the government and the World Bank to agree on transitional measures before project funds could be recommitted. Moreover, the letter mentioned that the bank is awaiting documentation regarding the status of Sh12.49 billion ($91 million) previously advanced for the projects out of the total funding.

A spokesperson for Congo’s finance ministry mentioned being in a holding pattern for comments, awaiting clearance from the presidency. However, Presidential spokesperson Tina Salama denied any suspension of funding, asserting there would be transitional management of the fund. Salama did not address questions regarding the Sh12.49 billion ($91 million).

One prominent beneficiary affected by the funding freeze is the Panzi Foundation, led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Denis Mukwege. Mukwege expressed concern, stating it’s a catastrophe for the victims of sexual violence, and noted the warning received about the halt in expense reimbursements. The abrupt decision to alter the financing structure has raised governance concerns, prompting calls from four of Congo’s main opposition politicians for an audit of funds by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the African Development Bank.

Source of original article: Politics | The Voice (
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