A humanitarian and security crisis in Afghanistan could have effects throughout the world, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Monday.
Addressing a high-level U.N. ministerial meeting on the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, convened by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Çavuşoğlu underlined it is a moral duty to deliver humanitarian aid to the Afghan people and that "a humanitarian and security crisis in Afghanistan would have direct implications across the globe."
He said global action is urgently needed and voiced support for Guterres' call for mobilizing an effective response.
"The precondition for this is security. Humanitarian aid agencies should be able to operate safely and have smooth access to those in need. And we hope that the current authority in Afghanistan will do its part," Çavuşoğlu said, referring to the Taliban interim government.
Çavuşoğlu said that nearly half of the population is in need of urgent humanitarian aid and a third of the Afghan people face hunger.
Turkey has contributed to the stabilization and development efforts in Afghanistan, including the education of girls and empowerment of women since the 1920s, he said, adding that today Turkey provides humanitarian aid through the Turkish Red Crescent (Kızılay).
The Taliban victory in Afghanistan has not led to a dramatic refugee exodus, but the country urgently needs humanitarian aid to prevent economic collapse and major upheaval, according to the U.N.
Half a million people had been displaced within Afghanistan in recent months, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi said, a number which would grow if health services, schools and the economy break down.
Even before the Taliban launched its final push to seize control, 3 million Afghans were already displaced in a country struggling with drought and the COVID-19 pandemic, and where nearly half the population was receiving some form of aid.
The UNHCR said two weeks ago that up to half a million Afghans could leave their homeland by the end of the year in a worst-case scenario.
"We will continue our support as conditions on the ground get better. Our embassy in (the capital) Kabul is operational and my colleagues are working on humanitarian files," Çavuşoğlu added further.
"As we have done for the last six years, we are ready to offer our experience and expertise in cooperation with Qatar, to keep the airport operational," he said.
The Taliban declared the war in Afghanistan over after taking control in August of the presidential palace in Kabul, forcing Western nations to scramble to evacuate their citizens amid chaos at Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport as frantic Afghans searched for a way out.
With the Taliban in possession of Kabul's airport after the U.S. completed its withdrawal on Aug. 31, the focus shifted from the mammoth Western evacuation operation to the group's future plans for the transport hub.
Turkey had offered to run security following the withdrawal of foreign troops, but the Taliban repeatedly said it would not accept any foreign military presence in Afghanistan after Aug. 31.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey was still assessing the group's offer, but the Taliban still insisted on controlling security.
The Taliban have insisted they want to keep the civilian airport open, but without guarantees over security, commercial airlines are reluctant to operate out of Kabul. So far, only Pakistan's national flag carrier, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), has resumed scheduled service to the airport.
Apart from the Taliban, Turkey is also in talks with the U.S. and Qatar, which also offered assistance.
Since 2002, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) have operated in Afghanistan under the United Nations, NATO and bilateral agreements to contribute to the peace, welfare and stability of the Afghan people. Turkey had more than 500 noncombatant troops stationed in Afghanistan as part of NATO’s now-abandoned mission in the war-torn country. Turkey has been in Afghanistan in a noncombatant role for two decades and has been involved in consultancy efforts, reconstruction and maintenance. It has been operating the airport for six years.
Keeping the airport open after foreign forces hand over control is vital not just for Afghanistan to stay connected to the world but to maintain aid supplies and operations.
Çavuşoğlu went on to say that the world should be realistic and keep a long-term perspective on Afghanistan.
"Any sustainable solution requires functioning state institutions. We noted the recently announced caretaker government. The Taliban stated that this is a transitional government. We hope for a genuinely inclusive one, representing all sectors of the society."
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