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Taiwan may increase aid to Haiti to US$10 million: president

ROC Central News Agency

2010/01/29 12:07:01

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Jan. 28 (CNA) Visiting Republic of China President Ma Ying-jeou outlined four projects Thursday to help with reconstruction in earthquake-ravaged Haiti, saying Taiwan increase its aid donation to US$10 million.

Taiwan pledged a US$5 million donation shortly after the Caribbean ally was struck by a deadly magnitude-7 earthquake Jan. 12.

Ma, who arrived in the Dominican Republic for a brief stop after attending the inauguration of Honduran President Porfirio Lobo Sosa the previous day, made the remarks in a ceremony at the Santo Domingo international airport to mark the delivery from Taiwan of 10 tons of disaster relief supplies for neighboring Haiti.

The relief goods, including medical supplies and food, were brought from Taiwan aboard Ma's chartered flight and unloaded in the Dominican Republic capital for delivery to Haiti by road. Among the supplies is a Taiwan-made satellite phone.

Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, who accepted the relief goods on behalf of the Haitian government, expressed his heartfelt gratitude for Taiwan's aid in various fields over the years, particularly after the recent earthquake.

Addressing the ceremony, Ma said he held a three-way meeting with Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernandez and Bellerive shortly after his arrival in Santo Domingo to discuss how to further help with post-disaster relief and resettlement work.

"I insisted on making a less-than-three-hour stopover here not only to deliver the relief supplies but more importantly to discuss assistance in follow-up rehabilitation operations," Ma explained.

With search and rescue work wrapping up, Ma said that for the moment, four tasks are the most urgent.

First and foremost is providing medical services and preventing epidemics, Ma said, adding that Taiwan has rich experience in this regard and will send a team of public health experts and medical personnel to set up provisional health stations to serve Haitian quake survivors.

Second, Ma continued, his administration plans to join with other countries in building "villages of hope" for hundreds of thousands of Haitian people rendered homeless by the quake. Initially, Taiwan will build 200 housing units capable of accommodating up to 1,000 people, he said, adding that the number could be increased to 1,000 units for 5,000 people in the future.

Third, Ma went on, Taiwan will help establish farms or factories in the vicinity of the planned "villages of hope" to offer vocational training and jobs to help the quake victims get back on their feet.

Fourth, Ma said, he will ask Taiwanese non-government organizations and charities such as World Vision Taiwan and the Taiwan Fund for Children and Families to promote sponsorship of Haitian children orphaned by the earthquake.

Fernandez suggested that an international conference be held in his country April 14 to coordinate the global aid to Haiti, with the participation of Taiwan, to which Ma responded that he hopes Taiwan will have finalized a pilot project for aid by that time.

Presidential Office spokesman Wang Yu-chi said Ma hopes the Taiwan-initiated aid projects can eventually expand into a global effort.

Chi Wang-teh, the minister extraordinary at the ROC Embassy in Haiti who was injured in the earthquake, also attended the airport ceremony, despite having yet to fully recover from his injuries.

During his brief stay in Santo Domingo, Ma also talked on the phone with ROC Ambassador to Haiti Hsu Mien-sheng, who was receiving treatment in a U.S. hospital in Miami for injuries he sustained in the earthquake.

After the ceremony, Ma and his entourage headed for Los Angeles for a 15-hour transit stop en route back to Taiwan.

(By Garfie Li and Sofia Wu) ENDITEM/J

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