Official touts Middle East humanitarian aid efforts

Middle East USA World
  • By Lu Yi-hsuan and William Hetherington / Staff reporter, with staff writer

Taiwan’s commitment to developing countries is demonstrated by the nation’s humanitarian aid efforts in the Middle East, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said on Sunday.

Through the combined efforts of government agencies and civic groups, Taiwan has donated prefabricated housing, medical equipment and other facilities to Jordan, Turkey and Iraq, Department of West Asian and African Affairs Director Ali Yang (楊心怡) said.

Taiwanese professionals have also assisted with job training, medical care and other programs in the region to improve people’s lives there, he added.

“We have done benevolent work worldwide, which is not only helpful from a humanitarian perspective, but also demonstrates Taiwan’s soft power,” he said.

The nation’s humanitarian efforts as of last year included 450 projects in more than 60 countries, he said.

Having been stationed in Syria, Mongolia and Kuwait, Yang is familiar with humanitarian aid, and has years of experience working closely with non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Giving an example of an NGO he has worked with, Yang said that the Taiwan Fund for Children and Families has long provided aid in Mongolia by buying school supplies, and running lunch programs for children and shelters.

The organization’s programs have helped more than 10,000 children in Mongolia, he said.

“The locals there are all familiar with these programs, which have afforded Taiwan a great deal of respect from Mongolians,” he said.

In the past few years, Taiwan has also focused on humanitarian efforts in Syria, which has been in a civil war for nearly 10 years, resulting in the displacement of millions of people, Yang said.

The government has helped Syrians by providing 350 prefabricated homes for the Zaatari and Azraq refugee camps in Jordan, 5,000 solar-powered LED lights, a mobile clinic and rice, as well as training programs, such as for computers and agriculture, he said.

Most recently, Taiwan has donated 200,000 medical-grade masks, as well as thermal-imaging cameras, to Jordan, and 100,000 medical-grade masks to Turkey, to help frontline medical personnel in those countries during the COVID-19 pandemic, Yang said.

Overseas Taiwanese civic groups also donated gloves, full-face plastic visors and other supplies to medical workers in the countries, he said.

What he found most touching was the contributions of individuals and NGOs, Yang said, adding that the government has sometimes emulates their creative aid efforts.

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