Turkey calls for coordinated humanitarian aid to Afghanistan
Turkey has called on the international community for a coordinated response to the growing humanitarian needs of Afghanistan at a summit held in Pakistan by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) on the latest developments in the central Asian country.
The foreign ministers of the OIC attended the extraordinary meeting under the leadership of Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu represented Turkey at the summit and delivered the Turkish government’s approach to the crisis in Afghanistan.
“Solidarity with our Afghan brothers is an ethical responsibility and a religious task. Around 23 million in Afghanistan, which makes 60 percent of the population, are facing hunger. The OIC should play a leading role for mobilizing the international support to Afghanistan,” Çavuşoğlu said at the opening session of the summit.
“We should first be able to coordinate humanitarian assistance,” he said, thanking Pakistan and Uzbekistan for facilitating the shipment of assistance to Afghanistan.
A fund to be established by the Islamic Development Bank is a positive step, the Turkish top diplomat stressed, “In the same way, economic collapse should be avoided. Continuing sanctions do negatively affect the financial system. If these funds cannot reach Afghans, then all the commitments you make will remain futile.”
Çavuşoğlu cited humanitarian and economic crises as creating fresh burden on the region and neighboring countries, calling on the OIC to work with the UNHCR and International Organization for Migration.
Taliban must be inclusive
The Turkish foreign minister also underlined the need to work together with the Taliban for stability. “We should continue to support this current government for being inclusive, protecting everybody’s rights and expanding the access of women and girls into employment and education,” he stated.
All the positive steps to be taken and statements in this direction will increase the legitimacy and power of this government both inside and outside Afghanistan, Çavuşoğlu said, adding, “The worsening crises have a very important effect on Asian Muslims. We think that it’s very important for all the Asian nations, including Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Indonesia and Malaysia, to actively engage on the issue of Afghanistan.”
Pakistan warns of grave consequences
In the meantime, Pakistan warned of “grave consequences” for the international community if Afghanistan’s economic meltdown continued, urging world leaders to find ways to engage with the country’s Taliban leaders to help prevent a humanitarian catastrophe.
Speaking at the opening of the meeting, Qureshi said fallout from the deepening crisis could mean mass hunger, a flood of refugees and a rise in extremism.
“We cannot ignore the danger of a complete economic meltdown,” he told the gathering, which also included the Taliban’s foreign minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi, alongside delegates from the United States, China, Russia, the European Union and U.N.
The meeting is the biggest major conference on Afghanistan since the U.S.-backed government fell in August and the Taliban returned to power. Since then, billions of dollars in aid and assets have been frozen by the international community, and the nation of 38 million now faces a bitter winter.
The United Nations has repeatedly warned that Afghanistan is on the brink of the world’s worst humanitarian emergency with a combined food, fuel and cash crisis.Qureshi said the OIC was being asked to consider a six-point plan to help Afghanistan that would engage with Taliban authorities to help ease pressure on their country. It would include coordinating aid, increasing investment, helping rebuild Afghan institutions and providing technical experts to manage the economy.