The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has set out a humanitarian program for rapid intervention to tackle the worsening condition of Syrian refugees, the group’s assistant secretary-general said yesterday.
Addressing a press conference, Ata Al-Mannan Bakhit commended Saudi Arabia’s support for OIC’s humanitarian programs. “The Kingdom extends huge contributions to push our humanitarian endeavors,” he added.
About 60 percent of the world’s refugees live in Muslim countries such as Pakistan, Iran, Syria, Sudan and Somalia. “We have to find a radical solution to this problem with the participation of countries exporting and receiving refugees as well as international relief organizations,” he pointed out.
Bakhit indicated that the total number of refugees in the OIC countries could reach 18 million within the next 10 years as a result of political crises and natural calamities.
Speaking about the international conference on refugees in the Islamic world, which begins in the Turkmenistan capital of Ashgabat on May 11, he said it would announce long-term programs to deal with the root causes for the increasing number of refugees.
“The Ashgabat Declaration will highlight OIC’s vision to deal with the refugee problem in the world,” the assistant secretary-general said. “It will discuss the political, economic and social reasons for the increase in the number of refugees,” he added.
Bakhit said there are no Syrian refugees in the Gulf countries. “They are mainly centered in Turkey (25,000), Jordan (9,000), Iraq and Lebanon,” he said quoting reports issued by UNRWA. The Syrian authorities have allowed a number of international organizations such as UNRWA and Red Cross to enter the country to provide humanitarian assistance to victims of the violence.
“We have told the Syrian government that the OIC should have official representation in the country to engage in relief work like in any other member country,” he said. “We are still awaiting approval from the Syrian government to carry out our humanitarian and relief activities in the country,” he added.