Islamic Countries Pledges to Help UN Address Afghanistan’s Rising Crisis

Muslim countries agreed on Sunday to join with the UN to try to unlock hundreds of millions of dollars in blocked Afghan assets in order to help alleviate the humanitarian disaster. 

Delegates have pledged to try and unlock the financial and banking channels to resume liquidity and flow of financial and humanitarian assistance at a special meeting of the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Pakistan. 

The gathering was the largest in Afghanistan since the Taliban retook control following the fall of the US-backed government in August.  

The international world has frozen billions of dollars in aid and assets since then, and the country is in the midst of a harsh winter. 

The Islamic Development Bank will lead the drive to free up assistance by the first quarter of next year, as per the OIC decision issued following the meeting. 

It also encouraged Afghanistan’s government to uphold its duties under international human rights treaties, particularly in the areas of women, children, youth, the elderly, and those with special needs. 

Pakistan had previously warned of “grave consequences” for the international community if Afghanistan’s economic collapse persisted, and asked world leaders to work with the Taliban to avoid a humanitarian disaster. 

Pakistan has warned that the escalating situation could result in mass hunger, a refugee influx, and an increase in terrorism. 

The OIC also decided on Sunday to send a group of worldwide Muslim scholars to meet with the Taliban to discuss matters such as Islam’s tolerance and moderation, equal access to education, and women’s rights. 

No country has publicly recognized the Taliban government, and diplomats are faced with the difficult challenge of channeling aid to the country’s struggling economy without backing the hardline Islamists. 

Women are primarily excluded from government work, and secondary schools for girls have largely remained closed, despite the Taliban’s promise of a milder version of the rigid rule that characterized their first term in power from 1996 to 2001. 

The previous Taliban government was only recognized by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. The OIC decision was light on details and did not provide a sum for financial aid. 

The meeting took place in a high-security environment, with Islamabad on lockdown and the venue surrounded by barbed wire barriers and shipping-container roadblocks, with police and troops on the lookout. 

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