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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - ISLAMABAD: Afghanistan’s envoy to Pakistan has praised the Organization of Islamic Cooperation for working to connect the country to the outside world and lauded Saudi Arabia for its crucial humanitarian assistance.
Afghanistan has been facing a looming humanitarian disaster since the Taliban took control in mid-August, a situation that prompted the US and other donor states to cut off financial assistance and isolate the country from the global financial system.
The sudden suspension of aid and access to banking has left nearly 23 million Afghans facing extreme levels of hunger and 9 million at risk of famine, according to UN agencies.
On Dec. 19, the OIC held the 17th extraordinary session of its Council of Foreign Ministers in Islamabad. The meeting, called by Saudi Arabia, focused on the economic crisis in Afghanistan and was also attended by delegations from the EU, and the P5+1 group of the UN Security Council, comprising the US, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany.
At the summit’s conclusion, OIC member states agreed to establish a humanitarian trust fund to channel assistance, appoint a special envoy, and work together with the UN in the war-ravaged country.
“It (the OIC meeting) was a channel to connect Afghanistan with the world,” Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Sardar Ahmed Khan Shakib told Arab News earlier this week, in his first media interview since assuming office.
“Through the OIC conference, we were able to show to the world the true picture of the situation in Afghanistan.”
Shakib added that Saudi Arabia had been the most generous aid contributor among OIC member states.
During the OIC’s session in Islamabad, Saudi Arabia pledged SR1 billion ($266 million) in aid to the OIC fund for Afghanistan. It has also dispatched immediate help through King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center to assist Afghans amid the economic meltdown.
“Saudi Arabia is very cooperative and has helped Afghans more than any other OIC member state,” he said. “Six aircraft full of humanitarian assistance packages from Saudi Arabia, including clothes, and food have already reached the Afghans in need.”
A KSrelief convoy of goods was also sent to Afghanistan via a land route from Pakistan.
Islamabad has as well announced a 5 billion rupee ($28.4 million) medical, food, and humanitarian aid package for its landlocked neighbor.
“The Pakistani government and other organizations, including traders and community members, have also sent assistance and are still trying to fully support the Afghan people,” Shakib said.
He added that 2,000 tons of wheat from Pakistan had already arrived in Afghanistan and expressed hope that other countries that had pledged help would deliver on their promises.
“Some assistance has already reached and been distributed among Afghans,” he said. “But it is still not enough.”
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