Afghan Envoy in Turkey Calls on Islamic World to Support Palestinians

Published March 5th, 2019 - 05:50 GMT
Palestinian protesters hurl stones at Israeli soldiers near a gate leading to Hebron's main al-Shuhada street. (AFP/ File Photo)
Palestinian protesters hurl stones at Israeli soldiers near a gate leading to Hebron's main al-Shuhada street. (AFP/ File Photo)

Afghanistan's ambassador to Turkey called on international community, particularly the Islamic world, to do its part in supporting Palestinians.

In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency in Istanbul, Abdul Rahim Sayed said: “This is a humanitarian cause. Humanitarian assistance is something which is responsibility of all human beings. Especially, the Islamic world should do it.”

“If Afghanistan can do it [granting aid] in such a difficult time, everybody can do it,” he added.

His remarks came after his government granted $1 million in financial aid for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in an event held in Istanbul on Sunday.

According to a statement issued by UNRWA statement in January, the funding was needed to continue providing assistance to some 5.4 million Palestinian refugees across the Middle East and maintaining the agency’s operations at 2018 levels.

Pierre Krahenbuhl, commissioner-general of UNRWA, said in January that a further $138 million would be required to provide emergency aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank (including East Jerusalem), while an additional $277 million would be needed to support the agency’s Syria Regional Crisis Emergency Appeal.

Sayed said despite difficulties and challenges that Afghanistan are facing, “our president [Ashraf Ghani] decided to support by responding to the call by President Erdogan”.

He said the Afghan people see Palestine issue as a “noble cause”.

“The Palestinian cause is a very noble cause for Afghan people. Whatever they could do for Palestinians, they will do it,” he said.

US cut funds

The Afghan envoy criticized a U.S.’s move to cut funds for UNWRA.

Last year, U.S. President Donald Trump cut Washington’s annual funding for UNRWA. The U.S. had been the agency’s largest contributor by far, providing it with $350 million each year -- roughly a quarter of its overall budget.

“We should not cut any support for humanitarian assistance. Palestinian refugees, children, they need support and we should do it. Everybody should do it,” Sayed stressed.

According to UNWRA, nearly one-third of the registered Palestine refugees, more than 1.5 million individuals, live in 58 recognized Palestine refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

“Socioeconomic conditions in the camps are generally poor, with high population density, cramped living conditions and inadequate basic infrastructures such as roads and sewers,” the agency said.

Afghanistan ambassador also hailed Turkey’s role in the Middle East.

“Turkey is a big country, one of the leading countries in the Islamic world. The role of Turkey is very important for the support of the causes in the Islamic Ummah, especially for the Palestinian cause,” Sayed said.

 

Turkey-Afghanistan ties

Speaking about relations between Turkey and Afghanistan, the ambassador said: “We have very good, brotherly relations for a long time.

“Turkey is with people of Afghanistan in this difficult time. They are part of the assistance forces in Afghanistan. They are in the fight against terrorism,” he noted.

“They are supporting us in education and health, and military training of our forces. We have the best relations,” he said.

The ambassador also stressed that Turkey can play an important role in the peace process in Afghanistan.

Efforts to find a lasting settlement to the Afghan conflict have gathered momentum in the last six months with many players, including Turkey, Russia and the U.S., getting more engaged in the peace process.

Moscow hosted two peace conferences within four months between the Afghan government and the Taliban aimed at national reconciliation in the war-torn country.

Last month, U.S. special envoy for peace in Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad also met with Turkey's Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin in the capital Ankara. Khalilzad hailed Turkey’s support to the peace process in Afghanistan, saying both the U.S. and Afghans are “grateful” for Ankara’s role.

The raging Afghan conflict is in its bloody 18th year, with thousands of lives lost and millions forced to flee their homes.

This article has been adapted from its original source. 


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