On Tuesday, the World Bank announced a $52-million ecodiversity loan to Madagascar, the troubled east-African island nation. Political unrest has gravely threatened Madagascar's natural resources, allowing illegal logging and poaching to explode. Madagascar is considered an ecological treasure, and is the only place on earth where ring-tailed lemurs and dozens of insect species are found in the wild. The United States and other multinational organizations believe the Malagasy government to be illegitimate, following a 2009 coup that removed democratic leaders from power. As a result, international donors have largely halted economic aid to the country, a decision which is wildely blamed for devastating the country's nascent textile industry. The bank says it is not reversing course on that policy. The aid package will be welcome news to conservationists, but is likely to attract criticism on humanitarian grounds.
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