Carrying 994 tons of humanitarian aid, Turkey's third "Kindness Train" departed on Friday from the capital Ankara, destined for Afghanistan at a time of dire need.
The charity train, consisting of 62 containers carrying aid materials provided with the support of 19 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) under the coordination of the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), was flagged off from Ankara to Afghanistan.
Deputy Interior Minister Ismail Çataklı, AFAD head Yunus Sezer, Turkish State Railways (TCDD) General Manager Hasan Pezük and representatives of NGOs attended the flagging off ceremony.
In his speech at the ceremony, Çataklı thanked the NGOs that contributed to the "Kindness Train."
Noting that they were happy to see the third train departing, Çataklı emphasized that Afghanistan is a part of the geography of the heart.
Expressing that Turkey shares its resources with those oppressed all over the world, Çataklı stated that the plans for the forthcoming periods and preparations for the fourth expedition to Afghanistan have been completed.
AFAD President Yunus Sezer said that 14 NGOs contributed to the first train and 19 contributed to the third.
Sezer stated that the aid delivered by the first two trains is still being distributed across Afghanistan.
On the logistics front, Pezük shared that the cargo transportation operations were carried out successfully and that they were proud to take part in the charity initiative created for the people of Afghanistan.
Noting the two aid trains that made the trip to Afghanistan before, Pezük explained that they passed through the borders of Iran and Turkmenistan and completed the 4168-kilometer (2590-mile) journey in 12 days. Pezük stated that the third train will carry 994 tons of aid materials to be delivered to the Afghans.
The second "Kindness Train," carrying 920 tons of emergency goods under the coordination of the Turkish government, reached Afghanistan on Wednesday.
Afghanistan's capital Kabul also welcomed 750 tons of humanitarian assistance supplies sent by the first "Kindness Train" from Turkey to Kabul on Monday.
Aid groups describe Afghanistan's plight as one of the world's most rapidly growing humanitarian crises.
According to the United Nations, half the population now faces acute hunger, over 9 million people have been displaced and millions of children are out of school.
Previously, the U.N. and its partners launched a $4.4 billion funding appeal to avert a humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan in 2022.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has also warned that millions of Afghans are on the verge of death, urging the international community to release Afghanistan's frozen assets and jump-start its banking system.
The Turkish government has taken a pragmatic approach to the recent events in Afghanistan. Underlining that new realities have emerged in the country, Ankara said it would move forward accordingly while keeping communication with all relevant leaders open.
NATO member Turkey maintained its embassy in Afghanistan after Western countries withdrew following the Taliban takeover and has urged said countries to step up engagement. At the same time, it said it will only fully work with the Taliban if they form a more inclusive administration.
Turkey has been a key transit point for asylum-seekers attempting to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution. Concerns have risen over a possible spike in migrants from Afghanistan due to the U.S. pullout from the country and the following surge of Taliban attacks.
Ankara has made clear that it will not bear the burden of the migration crises experienced as a result of the decisions of third countries. Faced with a potential migrant wave due to the instability in Afghanistan, Turkey has maximized measures on its eastern border. Turkey continues to bolster its border security with Iran to prevent any new influx of migrants.