Gift Olivia Samuel, The Sight News
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has committed to strengthen the coordination of national, regional and international efforts to draw up containment strategies and to enhance the capacity of health and medical personnel to stem the spread of COVID-19 in member states.
The commitment was made during a virtual extraordinary meeting of the OIC Executive Committee at the level of Foreign Ministers Wednesday.
Foreign Minister Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen who participated in the meeting, called for collective efforts emanating from the spirit of Islam and brotherhood of Muslim ummah to fight the pandemic, together.
Bangladesh also called upon the General Secretariat and its organs to connect the research organizations in the field of medical sciences and medical equipment and also to incorporate the Business bodies of the member states to facilitate bulk production of the required medical items.
Taking note of the vulnerability of migrant workers across the globe – particularly in the ME and other OIC Member States – the Minister urged the member states to give utmost importance on the issue of job retention of domestic and resident migrant workers- especially Muslim migrant workers- so that sudden shock of unemployment can be cushioned and the social balance can be preserved.
Bangladesh proposed to establish an OIC COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, based on voluntary contributions of the Member States.
Bangladesh further requested to engage humanitarian organizations in Member States to provide sufficient financial assistance, medical support to the Muslim migrant workers from LDCs and developing countries until the impact of the epidemic is over, and also to advocate for their job retention to ensure their healthy livelihoods.
Bangladesh also underscored the exigency of collective actions of Members States to look after the well-being of Muslim refugees around the globe through resource allocation amidst this humanitarian crisis.
The current OIC Executive Committee comprises six member states- Bangladesh, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, The Gambia, United Arab Emirates, and Niger.
The meeting was chaired by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Chair of the 14th Islamic Summit Conference with the presence of Foreign Ministers or designated representatives of these six countries and OIC Secretary General.
The OIC Executive Committee has urged the parties in conflict areas to declare a ceasefire, end the violence and allow medical and food assistance to reach the affected.
The Committee also appealed to the humanitarian actors to provide food aid and identify safe pathways for helping the countries concerned. It has also made an urgent appeal to the international financial institutions and the bilateral, regional and international partners- especially the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to consider writing off the debts for LDCs and make financial assistance, concessional loans and basic support accessible to OIC member states to combat the COVID-19 and its aftermath.
Islamic Development Bank Group, an organ of the OIC, already announced a US$2.3 billion under its Rapid Response Initiative to contain the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Furthermore, Islamic Solidarity Fund, another organ of the OIC engaged in humanitarian/charitable activities, also established a separate account to raise resources to assist Member States, especially LDCs, to strengthen their capabilities in response to the pandemic, particularly in the health sector.