The World Bank and the Islamic Development Bank will lend Iran $50 million and €130 million respectively to combat coronavirus, a deputy health minister said on Saturday.
Iran has become the epicentre of coronavirus in the Middle East, with the government reporting 5,031 deaths and 80,686 infections as of Saturday.
“Preparations have been made in coordination with the World Health Organisation for a $50 million loan from the World Bank to purchase equipment needed to fight coronavirus from abroad,” the official IRNA news agency quoted Kamel Taghavinejad as saying.
Iran will also receive a €130 million loan from the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank, added Taghavinejad.
Reuters published on Saturday a list of countries receiving emergency funds from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to combat coronavirus. Iran was not on the list.
Iran requested a $5 billion emergency loan from the IMF to fight coronavirus in March. The request has been met with US opposition.
The US is worried the Islamic Republic will spend the money abroad on its regional proxies instead of using it to help ordinary Iranians.
Iran rejected US help against coronavirus on more than one occasion and instead launched a campaign calling for the sanctions against the Islamic Republic to be lifted, claiming they hinder Iran’s access to medicine and medical supplies amid the coronavirus pandemic – a claim which has been disputed by several Iranian officials, including Health Minister Saeed Namaki.
The US has refused to ease sanctions against Iran, pointing out that humanitarian goods such as medicines are exempt from sanctions.
US officials as well as the Iranian opposition argue that Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whose wealth is estimated to be around $200 billion, has enough money to meet the country’s needs during the coronavirus pandemic.