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OIC agrees to set up Humanitarian Trust Fund for Afghanistan

20 Dec, 2021
The meeting of the 17th Extraordinary Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers held on the initiative of Saudi Arabia and hosted by Pakistan was attended by around 70 delegates from the member states, international aid agencies and special representatives. APP
The meeting of the 17th Extraordinary Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers held on the initiative of Saudi Arabia and hosted by Pakistan was attended by around 70 delegates from the member states, international aid agencies and special representatives. APP

A specially convened meeting of the OIC on Sunday vowed to play a leading role in the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan and unanimously agreed on establishing a "Humanitarian Trust Fund," launch a Food Security Programme and engaging with the World Health Organization for securing vaccines and medical supplies.

The meeting of the 17th Extraordinary Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers held on the initiative of Saudi Arabia and hosted by Pakistan was attended by around 70 delegates from the member states, international aid agencies and special representatives.

The unanimously adopted joint resolution brings a glimmer of hope for the 22.8 million people – more than half the population of Afghanistan – who face acute food shortage; while 3.2 million children and 700,000 pregnant and lactating women are at risk of acute malnutrition.

The document adopted after day-long deliberations here at the parliament building also expressed solidarity with the Afghans and reiterated the commitment of the OIC member states to help bring peace, security, stability, and development to Afghanistan.

The extraordinary meeting was convened as the UN’s estimates warned that 60% of Afghanistan’s 38 million people face “crisis levels of hunger” and that the situation was getting worse every day. The OIC also expressed deep alarm at the deteriorating humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

The Council of Foreign Ministers also took into account the fact that the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, has pointed that 665,000 people have been newly-displaced within Afghanistan between January and September 2021 – in addition to the 2.9 million people already internally displaced by conflict in Afghanistan.

Expressing deep concern over the breakdown of Afghanistan’s health system, disease outbreaks and severe malnutrition, in particular in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, the OIC decided to establish a Humanitarian Trust Fund, under the aegis of the Islamic Development Bank; which would serve as a vehicle to channel humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan including in partnership with other international actors.

The Council of Foreign Ministers decided that the OIC General Secretariat, together with the Islamic Development Bank and Humanitarian Trust Fund, shall commence discussions with the UN system organisations to device a road map for mobilising actions in relevant fora to unlock the financial and banking channels to resume liquidity and flow of financial and humanitarian assistance. It would also devise a mechanism for the disbursement of urgent and sustained humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan.

In this regard, the Islamic Development Bank was urged to expeditiously operationalise the Humanitarian Trust Fund by the first quarter of 2022. Meanwhile, the meeting called on the 57-member states of the OIC, the Islamic financial institutions, donors and other international partners to announce pledges to the Humanitarian Trust Fund for Afghanistan as well as to provide humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.

The meeting expressed deep alarm at the worsening economic situation in Afghanistan, which it pointed was further compounded by the continued freeze of overseas Afghan assets as well as other international assistance, exacerbating the urgent cash-flow problems, including payment of remuneration to public officials, and hindering the provision of essential public and social services to the people of Afghanistan.

It also warned that an economic meltdown in Afghanistan would lead to a mass exodus of refugees, promote extremism, terrorism, and instability, with dire consequences for regional and international peace and stability.

The Council of Foreign Ministers commended Pakistan and Iran’s hospitality, in hosting millions of Afghan refugees for over four decades. It also pointed that millions of Afghan refugees are already residing in the neighbouring countries and beyond due to the protracted conflict and ensuing economic and social challenges spanning over 40 years.

The meeting stressed the need for supporting Afghanistan in addressing poverty, creating employment opportunities, and provision of essential services to its citizens, in particular food, clean water, quality education, health services.

The OIC while deciding to launch an Afghanistan Food Security Programme, requested the Islamic Organization for Food Security (IOFS) to undertake necessary work in this regard using the capacity of the organisation’s food security reserves, when necessary.

It also urged the OIC member states, international donors, the UN funds and programmes and other international actors to contribute to the Afghanistan Food Security Programme.

The meeting reiterated its call on the OIC secretary general to engage with donor financial institutions to provide necessary humanitarian and economic assistance to Afghanistan as well as Afghan refugees in neighbouring countries.

An urgent appeal was also made to OIC member states, the international community and international financial institutions to continue to provide all possible and necessary recovery, reconstruction, development, financial, educational, technical and material assistance for Afghanistan as policy tools to promote realisation and enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedoms by all Afghan citizens.

The Islamabad moot also decided to appoint Ambassador Tarig Ali Bakheet, the assistant secretary general for Humanitarian, Cultural and Family Affairs at the OIC General Secretariat, as a special envoy of the secretary general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for Afghanistan, to coordinate aid and assistance efforts, and mandated to pursue economic and political engagement with Afghanistan and to submit periodic reports.

The council of foreign ministers recalled the efforts exerted by Indonesia to highlight the grave humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly and the shared attention and concern by the Muslim countries to make headway in addressing the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan.

The delegates acknowledged that the Makkah Declaration adopted by more than 1200 eminent Islamic scholars at the International Conference of the Muslim World League held in Makkah in 2019, recognised the deep-rooted Islamic values that form the ethos of the Muslim society.

The members also recognised that "development, peace, security, stability, and human rights were interlinked and mutually reinforcing." The delegates reaffirmed the strong commitment of the OIC member states to the sovereignty and national unity of Afghanistan.

While recalling that the current humanitarian, social and economic situation was, inter alia, linked to the prolonged conflict in Afghanistan, they underlined the importance of investing in human development for achieving sustainable development in the country.

They expressed solidarity with the people of Afghanistan, reiterating the commitment of the OIC member states to help bring peace in Afghanistan.

The members noted the necessity for the continuation of economic cooperation to improve the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan and in this regard called for the implementation of large-scale energy, transport and communication projects including the TAPI pipeline, Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan (TAP) electricity transmission line, to create new opportunities for increasing social well-being of the Afghan people.

The participants noted the importance of the 15th Summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization, which took place in Ashgabat on November 28 2021, and the Ashgabat consensus for actions adopted at this Summit to address the humanitarian issues in Afghanistan.

The OIC ministers recognised the disproportionate impact of Afghanistan’s humanitarian situation on its neighbouring countries, especially in terms of a fresh influx of refugees and irregular migration.

It was recalled that millions of Afghan refugees were already residing in the neighbouring countries and beyond due to the protracted conflict and ensuing economic and social challenges spanning over 40 years.

The ministers acknowledged the efforts of the international community, neighbouring countries, donor agencies and other international organizations in the urgent provision of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, and stated that institutions and capacity building developed during decades of international assistance and support to Afghanistan was on the verge of being lost. Rebuilding state institutions and necessary capacity will take decades if urgent actions were not taken to stem the negative trajectory, they said.

The ministers recalled the international community’s expectations that all Afghans seize this historic opportunity to promote national reconciliation, observe the international conventions and agreements, and adhere to the international governing norms enshrined in the UN Charter and its resolutions.

They reaffirmed the importance of protecting and respecting the right to life, security, and dignity of the people of Afghanistan in compliance with the Islamic principles and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

The OIC delegates emphasised the importance of establishing inclusive governmental structures which adopted moderate and sound domestic and foreign policies, with a friendly approach towards neighbours of Afghanistan, aimed at realizing the shared goals of durable peace, security, safety and long-term prosperity of Afghanistan and the region.

They also emphasised the importance of meaningful participation of women in all spheres and upholding human rights, including for women, children and minorities.

They stressed that the menace of terrorism remained a grave threat to the peace and stability of Afghanistan, regional countries and the international community.

The delegates recognised that terrorism had devastating consequences on human rights and fundamental freedoms of victims and their families, in particular women and girls, deploring the suffering of the people of Afghanistan, and reaffirming its profound solidarity with them while stressing the importance of providing them with proper support and assistance.

They also stressed that the Afghan territory must not be used as a base or safe haven for any terrorist group.

They strongly condemned terrorist attacks claimed by the so-called Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISKP), an entity affiliated with Daesh, resulting in the loss of numerous precious lives and injuries to many others.

The OIC members welcomed the assurances for the safety of the diplomatic personnel and humanitarian workers, and international organisations in Afghanistan as well as a grant of general amnesty, refraining from reprisals and allowing safe passage to all those who wish to travel to and from Afghanistan.

The members commended Pakistan’s pivotal role in the evacuation of over 83,000 people comprising 47 nationalities from Afghanistan.

The council commended the important role played by Qatar, Kuwait, UAE, Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkey, and other countries in facilitating evacuations from Afghanistan.

They underscored the importance for the international community, in particular the OIC member states, not to abandon the people of Afghanistan.

The meeting welcomed the presence of the representatives of the United Nations secretary general, China, the US, the UK, France, Russia, Japan, Germany, Italy, European Union, Economic Cooperation Organization, League of Arab States and Gulf Cooperation Council.

Noting the statement delivered by the Representative of the Afghan authorities, the delegates affirmed the solidarity of the OIC member states with the Afghan people in their quest for a peaceful, united, stable, sovereign and prosperous Afghanistan.

The OIC ministers urged "Afghanistan to abide by the principles and purposes enshrined in the UN Charter and the Charter of the OIC and respect its commitments under international agreements and conventions, including its obligations under international human rights covenants, especially with regards to the rights of women, children, youth, elderly and people with special needs as well as the preservation of family values, as enshrined in Islamic teachings and principles."

They took note of the UN system-wide reports that the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan was unfolding at a pace and scale hitherto unknown in recent memory.

The delegates encouraged the United Nations system in particular UN High Commissioner for Refugees, UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, World Food Programme, United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, United Nations Development Programme, to pursue joint operation with the OIC for the delivery of urgent humanitarian aid.

The conference welcomed the initiative of Uzbekistan to create under the auspices of the United Nations a regional Logistic Hub in Termez city to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan.

The members called upon the international community to provide urgent and sustained humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan as well as to the major Afghan refugee-hosting countries.

The international community in general, and the UN Security Council in particular, were urged to ensure that existing targeted sanctions do not impede the provision of humanitarian aid or economic resources to preserve the institutions, schools and hospitals in Afghanistan and to allow multilateral development institutions, United Nations Agencies, Funds and Programmes and other humanitarian organizations to channel existing assistance and assets towards humanitarian assistance.

The OIC council affirmed the importance of sustained engagement of the international community with Afghanistan, especially in supporting the humanitarian and development needs of the Afghan people.

It was decided that the OIC will play a leading role in the delivery of humanitarian and development aid to the people of Afghanistan.

The members requested the General Secretariat to take immediate steps to reinforce the OIC Mission in Kabul with human, financial and logistical resources, enabling it to forge global partnerships and streamline aid operations on the ground.

The conference participants acknowledged that Afghanistan was facing serious liquidity challenges, and resolved to continue focusing on measures to ease access to legitimate banking services.

They underscored that Afghanistan’s access to its financial resources would be pivotal in preventing a collapse and in reviving the economic activity and in this regard, recognized the importance of taking related actions such as unlocking the channels of financial and in-kind flow of assistance and resources to the people of Afghanistan and exploring realistic pathways towards unfreezing Afghanistan’s financial assets.

It was decided that OIC General Secretariat shall engage with the World Health Organization and other relevant stakeholders for securing vaccines as well as other medical supplies, technical and related assistance for the people of Afghanistan in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and other persistent and emerging health concerns.

The delegates reaffirmed the importance of combating terrorism in Afghanistan and ensuring that the territory of Afghanistan was not used as a platform or safe haven by any terrorist group or organization.

They called upon Afghanistan to take concrete steps against all terrorist organizations in particular Al-Qaeda, Da'esh and its affiliates, ETIM, and TTP.

They reaffirmed that peace in Afghanistan would also contribute to the safe return of all Afghan refugees, and internally displaced persons so they can play their constructive role in the development of Afghanistan.

The international community was urged to remain cautious against the possibility of incitement and the role of spoilers, both inside and outside the country, to derail efforts aimed at peace and stability in Afghanistan.

They called upon the Afghan authorities to continue to work towards greater inclusiveness by developing a roadmap to strengthen the participation of all Afghans including women and girls to participate in all aspects of Afghan society.

The members underscored the need for concerted efforts to rebuild the necessary capacity of the relevant state institutions of Afghanistan to address challenges posed by terrorism, narcotics, smuggling, money laundering, organized crime, and irregular migration.

They requested the OIC secretary general to arrange for a delegation of prominent religious scholars and Ulama led by the International Islamic Fiqh Academy and other relevant religious institutions, to engage with Afghanistan on issues of vital concern, such as, but not limited to, tolerance and moderation in Islam, equal access to education and women’s rights in Islam.

The OIC secretary general was requested to present a report in coordination with the Islamic Development Bank and the Special Envoy of the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation for Afghanistan to the 48th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers regarding measures taken to implement this resolution, and the steps taken and resources required to strengthen OIC Mission in Afghanistan.

They also requested the OIC secretary general to present a report to the 48th session which identified measures to address the humanitarian and economic situation in Afghanistan as well as to highlight any practical difficulties being faced in the provision of humanitarian aid or related funds, financial assets, or economic resources to Afghanistan by the OIC Member States, OIC financial and humanitarian institutions and organizations.