A senior Turkish diplomat said Turkey strongly supports the U.N. mission in Afghanistan, as he highlighted the country's dire humanitarian and economic situation.
"We strongly support the development of a new aid architecture for Afghanistan led by UNAMA (United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan) to enable effective coordination between all donors and U.N. implementing agencies," said Ufuk Gezer, deputy director of the South Asia desk at Turkey's Foreign Ministry.
He was attending an international conference on Afghanistan in Uzbekistan's capital Tashkent.
Hailing Uzbekistan for hosting the conference, Gezer said, "the humanitarian and economic situation in Afghanistan remains critical. Around half of the Afghan population is at risk of hunger and dependent on assistance."
"For that matter, continuing international efforts to provide unhindered humanitarian assistance to Afghan people is imperative," he added.
The Turkish diplomat further noted that "achieving an integrated and cohesive approach among various humanitarian actors, within and outside the U.N. system, is equally critical in maintaining an effective aid mechanism."
"While humanitarian aid is absolutely crucial and alleviates sufferings of Afghan people to some extent, it is only a stop-gap measure," Gezer said, as he praised "the determination and the resilience" of the Afghan people.
Noting the struggles of Afghan entrepreneurs, Gezer stated that the country "needs a functioning economy first and foremost."
Turkey also strongly supports the ongoing efforts to establish a mechanism to manage the unfrozen Afghan assets to stabilize the economy, he said,
"Unless economic collapse is prevented, the humanitarian crisis will further deepen with grave consequences not only for Afghanistan but also for the entire region, in the form of new waves of irregular migration and growing risk of terrorism."
Regarding the issue of refugees, Gezer voiced Turkey's concerns saying that his country is "under pressure from continuing migration flows from Afghanistan."
"Lessening the push factors for migration in Afghanistan and addressing the chronic refugee problem in the region is in our common interest," he said.
He also expressed concerns over "the cultivation, production, trade and trafficking of illicit drugs in Afghanistan which continue to pose a threat to peace and stability in the region and beyond."
As a transit and a destination country, Gezer reiterated Turkey's "call to strengthen international and regional cooperation to counter" the threat caused by increased illicit drug trafficking.
Regarding Turkey's efforts to mitigate the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, Gezer said his country is supporting the efforts both on a bilateral level and through the U.N. and other international organizations.
"We provided more than $1.1 billion (TL 19.6 billion) for Afghanistan's development between 2005-2021, focusing on infrastructure, education and health sectors, as part of one of the largest foreign aid programs undertaken by our country so far.
"Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) has provided health services to more than 12 million people in Afghanistan in that period through the healthcare institutions it supports. TIKA built and renovated more than 100 schools in Afghanistan," he said.
He recalled Turkey's five charity trains sent to Afghanistan, carrying over 5,700 tons of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.
The fifth train is being dispatched to relieve the suffering of the earthquake victims in the provinces of Paktika and Khost.
"Despite all the challenges, we will continue to stand in solidarity with the Afghan people and work with the international community and countries in the region to help promote stability, inclusivity and development in Afghanistan," he added.
The Taliban took power last August amid the withdrawal of foreign forces and the collapse of the internationally recognized government. The interim administration, however, has yet to gain international recognition.
While international funding remains largely suspended, billions of dollars of the country's assets abroad, mostly in the U.S., are also frozen.
According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, half the population faces acute hunger, more than 9 million people have been displaced and millions of children are out of school.