Turkish ‘kindness train’ reaches Afghanistan in time of dire need

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Turkey’s “kindness train,” the charity train carrying 750 tons of emergency goods from Turkey to Afghanistan, reached its destination Monday.

According to the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), the train was received in a ceremony by Ambassador Cihad Erginay and acting Afghan government officials in the northwestern Herat province. The state agency tweeted that the aid will be distributed in all 34 provinces of the country.

The train left the Turkish capital Ankara late last month.

At least 11 humanitarian groups from Turkey, under the umbrella of the state-run Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), are supplying humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, facing a food shortage crisis and needing emergency aid.

The train traversed 4,168 kilometers (3,590 miles) via Iran and Turkmenistan to reach Afghanistan.

Around 12.9 million children in Afghanistan need aid due to extreme weather conditions, according to Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu.

Turkish Red Crescent (Kızılay) head Kerem Kınık also visited Afghanistan last week and held high-level meetings to discuss the distribution of humanitarian aid among Afghans.

Kınık called for a global mobilization campaign for Afghanistan amid the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the country.

“As the Turkish Red Crescent and Turkey, we will always continue to extend our helping hand to meet the needs of both the needy living in Afghanistan and the people who migrated from Afghanistan for economic reasons and are trying to establish a life elsewhere.”

The agency head also warned that the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover and the possible migration wave it causes will affect all countries from Iran to Europe, adding: “We have to start a global mobilization.”

Aid groups describe Afghanistan’s plight as one of the world’s most rapidly growing humanitarian crises.

According to the United Nations, half the population now faces acute hunger, over 9 million people have been displaced and millions of children are out of school.

Previously, the U.N. and its partners launched a $4.4 billion funding appeal to avert a humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan in 2022.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has also warned that millions of Afghans are on the verge of death, urging the international community to release Afghanistan’s frozen assets and jump-start its banking system.

The Turkish government has taken a pragmatic approach to the recent events in Afghanistan. Underlining that new realities have emerged in the country, Ankara said it would move forward accordingly while keeping communication with all relevant leaders open.

NATO member Turkey maintained its embassy in Afghanistan after Western countries withdrew following the Taliban takeover and has urged those countries to step up engagement. At the same time, it said it will only work fully with the Taliban if they form a more inclusive administration.

Also, Turkey has been a key transit point for asylum-seekers attempting to cross into Europe to start new lives, especially those fleeing war and persecution. Concerns have risen over a possible spike in migrants from Afghanistan, due to the United States pullout from the country and the following surge of Taliban attacks.

Turkey has made it clear that it will not bear the burden of the migration crises experienced as a result of the decisions of third countries. Faced with a potential migrant wave due to the instability in Afghanistan, Turkey has maximized measures on its eastern border. Turkey is continuing to bolster the security on its border with Iran to prevent any new influx of migrants.

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