Islamic countries pledge to set up a humanitarian trust fund for Afghanistan The emergency gathering of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation was the largest international meeting on Afghanistan since the country fell to the Taliban in August.

Islamic countries are pledging to launch a humanitarian trust fund for Afghanistan

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A MARTINEZ, HOST:

Taliban ruled Afghanistan and continues to face international economic sanctions. The United States has frozen $9.5 billion in assets belonging to the Afghan central bank, and the country is on the brink of economic collapse and mass starvation. An emergency meeting of the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation convened on Sunday in Islamabad. NPR's Fatma Tanis was there and has this report.

FATMA TANIS, BYLINE: Dozens of foreign ministers from Islamic countries, as well as special representatives on Afghanistan from the U.S., China and Russia, attended the one-day conference, the largest meeting on Afghanistan since the country fell to the Taliban. The undersecretary of humanitarian affairs for the United Nations, Martin Griffiths, was also there and warned that, quote, "universal poverty may reach 97% of the Afghan population within the year." Shah Mahmood Qureshi, the foreign minister of Pakistan, which hosted the event, said the world must act now.

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SHAH MAHMOOD QURESHI: God forbid if things go wrong, it's not just Afghanistan that will be impacted. Neighbors will be equally impacted. The consequences will be felt beyond the region.

TANIS: While members of Afghanistan's Taliban government were also present, they were not given any formal international recognition and were pressed by the heads of other Islamic countries to abide by human rights principles.

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QURESHI: The other message that came out clearly was that we would have a difference of opinion with the authorities, but our focus is the 38 million people of Afghanistan.

TANIS: After a day of meetings, the conference reached a joint resolution on Afghanistan's humanitarian crisis and agreed to establish a humanitarian trust fund through the Saudi-based Islamic Development Bank. Here's Qureshi again.

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QURESHI: They've agreed to launch a food security program for Afghanistan.

TANIS: Qureshi also urged the U.S. and the U.N. Security Council not to let sanctions on Afghanistan and its Taliban-run government to get in the way of humanitarian aid and money for schools and hospitals. He called the conference a success but maintained that many follow-ups would be required, particularly to develop a mechanism to disburse aid to the people of Afghanistan. Fatma Tanis, NPR News, Islamabad.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE BEST PESSIMIST'S "OCEANICA")

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