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Palestinians get 2 million dollars in World Bank bird flu aid

Written by: Staff

GAZA, Mar 25 (Reuters) The World Bank will donate 2 million dollars to help Palestinians contain an outbreak of the deadly avian flu in the Gaza Strip, a bank official said today.

Contagions were discovered in two Gaza chicken farms this week, the first cases in Palestinian-ruled areas. But the culling of the poultry has been held up, with the owners insisting they be guaranteed compensation.

The World Bank official said the pledge followed requests by the Palestinian Authority and humanitarian agencies.

''The World Bank has agreed to pay 2 million dollars to the Palestinian Authority in order to limit the spread of bird flu,'' the official said.

Israel, which is battling its own outbreak of the deadly H5N1 virus, has agreed to donate protective gear and culling equipment to the Palestinians.

Bird flu can infect people who come into close contact with infected poultry and has killed about 100 people since late 2003.

Experts fear the virus will mutate into a form that passes easily from person to person.

There have been no confirmed cases of the virus infecting humans in Gaza or the West Bank, where Palestinians seek statehood. The outbreak in the West Bank has so far been limited to a Jewish settlement under Israeli control.

Reuters SHR BD2136

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