The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - The International Monetary Fund says it will sharply increase funds it provides to low income countries to help them deal with the global financial crisis.

The lending organization also says these countries, many in sub-Sahara Africa, will not have to pay interest on any IMF loans through 2011.

The head of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, said Wednesday the new measures totaling up to $17 billion are an unprecedented scaling up of IMF support for the poorest countries. He said the G20 countries asked the fund to help respond to the global financial crisis that has hit the low income countries so hard.

He says the new resources and new ways of delivering them should help prevent millions from falling into poverty.