The foreign ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Sunday has pledged to set up a humanitarian trust fund to address the growing economic crisis in Afghanistan which has left millions vulnerable to starvation during the winter season.
The fund will be set up under the Islamic Development Bank to channel aid to Afghanistan in coordination with other groups, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told a news conference.
Qureshi said the worsening crisis could lead to mass hunger, an influx of refugees and a resurgence in terrorism.
“We cannot ignore the danger of complete economic meltdown,” he told the gathering, which also included Taliban foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi alongside delegates from the United States, China, Russia, the European Union and United Nations.
In turn, the Saudi Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, said, in a speech at the session, that the Kingdom “recognizes that the economic collapse and deterioration of living conditions in Afghanistan will not only be a human tragedy but will lead to more instability and pose a threat to peace.”
The Saudi minister expressed his hope that the outcomes of the meeting would contribute to providing the immediate humanitarian response to the Afghan people through pledges of donor countries and the proposed mechanisms such as the establishment of a humanitarian trust fund for Afghanistan under the supervision of the Islamic Development Bank.
In response to a question, Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Hussein Ibrahim Taha, clarified that no amounts have been pledged so far to the OIC’s humanitarian fund. According to United Nations estimates, about 60 per cent of Afghanistan’s 38 million people are facing “hunger crisis levels” that are getting worse “every day”.
United Nations’ undersecretary-General on Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths was also present at the OIC meeting and warned that Afghanistan’s economy was “now in free fall”.
“If we don’t act decisively and with compassion, I fear this fall will pull the entire population with it,” he said in his remarks.
The meeting called on the international community to provide urgent and sustained humanitarian aid to Afghanistan as well as to the main countries housing Afghan refugees.
It decided that the Organization of the Islamic Conference would play a leading role in providing humanitarian and development assistance to the people of Afghanistan.
The Pakistani capital, Islamabad, witnessed the launch of the 17th Extraordinary Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation on Afghanistan.
Representatives of 57 Islamic countries participate in the two-day meeting as well as delegations in the capacity of observers to discuss the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, according to Pakistani media.
The meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation is the first major conference on Afghanistan since the Taliban took control of the country in August 2021.
The meeting is being held under tight security with Islamabad closed and surrounded by barbed wire fences and roadblocks for shipping containers where police and soldiers stand guard.