The unfolding humanitarian and economic crises in Afghanistan are increasing migration pressure on neighboring countries, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Sunday.
Speaking at the 17th Extraordinary Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Islamabad, Çavuşoğlu said that the OIC must continue to cooperate with international organizations such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to support displaced people.
Turkey’s top diplomat called on the OIC to mobilize international support for Afghanistan and play a leading role in this regard.
“We believe that the active engagement regarding Afghanistan of Asian nations including Pakistan, Iran, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Indonesia and Malaysia is highly significant. We have to take more steps and play a leading role as the Islamic community,” he said.
Çavuşoğlu suggested that a joint visit of OIC foreign ministers to Kabul would serve as a show of solidarity with the Afghan people.
“First of all, we have to coordinate humanitarian aid,” he said, thanking Pakistan for facilitating the transfer of aid into the conflict-ridden country.
He underlined that the economic collapse of Afghanistan must be prevented and that sanctions negatively affect the financial system.
"If these financial resources do not reach the Afghan people, the commitments we have made will not make any sense. We should immediately put into action the solutions regarding financial resources, and solve the liquidity and bank transfer resources in this way," he added.
The emergency in Afghanistan, with millions facing hunger as winter sets in, has caused mounting alarm, but the international community has struggled to come up with a coordinated response given Western reluctance to help the Taliban government, which seized power in August.
The two-day meeting in Islamabad also includes representatives from the United Nations and international financial institutions, as well as world powers including the United States, the European Union and Japan.
The Taliban's acting foreign minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi, is also attending, even though so far no country has officially recognized the new administration in Kabul.
Taliban officials have asked for help to rebuild Afghanistan's shattered economy and feed more than 20 million people threatened with hunger. Some countries and aid organizations have begun delivering aid, but a near-collapse of the country's banking system has complicated their work.
Beyond immediate aid, Afghanistan needs help ensuring longer-term economic stability. Much will depend on whether Washington is willing to lift sanctions against Taliban leaders that have caused many institutions and governments to shy away from direct dealings with their government.
"Unless action is taken immediately, Afghanistan is heading for chaos," Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan said in his opening remarks, adding that a refugee crisis and more Daesh violence may follow. "Chaos suits no one," he said.
Turkey’s top diplomat highlighted that an inclusive Afghan government and collaborating with the Taliban are vital for stability.
“We have to continue to support the current government and advise it to be inclusive, to protect everyone’s rights and at the same time expand the access of women and girls to employment and education.”
Çavuşoğlu also met with Muttaqi on the sidelines of the OIC meeting.
No nation has yet formally recognized the Taliban government and diplomats face the delicate task of channeling aid to the stricken Afghan economy without propping up the Taliban.
The Turkish government has adopted a pragmatic approach toward the recent events in Afghanistan. Underlining that new realities have emerged in Afghanistan, Ankara said it would move forward accordingly while keeping communication with all relevant actors open. The Taliban say they want international recognition but warn that weakening their government will affect security and spark an even bigger exodus of migrants from the country. Taliban officials previously expressed that they want Turkey to provide aid and support to the Afghan people. Turkey, a NATO member, maintained its embassy in Afghanistan after Western countries withdrew following the Taliban takeover and has urged those countries to step up engagement. At the same time, it said it will only work fully with the Taliban if they form a more inclusive administration.
The Taliban, who were last in power in 2001, have declared an amnesty on former government officials and said they will never allow Afghanistan to be used as a base for attacks on other countries.
But they have faced heavy criticism for keeping women and girls out of employment and education, excluding broad sections of Afghan society from government and have been accused of trampling on human rights as well as targeting former officials despite their promise of amnesty.
Similarly, Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the deepening crisis could bring mass hunger, a flood of refugees and a rise in extremism.
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 the country.
It would include coordinating aid, increasing investment, helping rebuild Afghan institutions and providing technical experts to manage the economy.
Any aid pledges were set to be announced Sunday evening.
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