Wed, Jun 25, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Liberia needs our help: lawmaker

By Monique Chu  /  STAFF REPORTER

John Cummings, right, Liberia's ambassador to Taiwan, calls for humanitarian aid for his war-torn country during a press conference yesterday.

PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

A DPP legislator yesterday joined the Liberian ambassador to call for aid from non-governmental agencies in an attempt to help ease the battle-scarred African state's em-erging humanitarian crisis.

"We need tents because people are sleeping outside. We need sleeping bags, dehydrated foods and mosquito repellant," said Liberian Ambassador John Cummings in a press conference yesterday.

"The supply is dwindling," Cummings said, adding that a growing number of refugees are sleeping in a roofless football stadium in the Liberian capital of Monrovia.

DPP Legislator Lai Chin-lin (賴勁麟), who joined Cummings at the press conference, said the non-governmental sector should step up its efforts in offering humanitarian aid to Taiwan's diplomatic ally.

Reminding citizens of the timber Liberia shipped to Taiwan in an attempt to help rebuild homes in the wake of the 921 earthquake, Lai said it's time for Taiwanese to lend a hand to their Liberian counterparts.

At a time when the future political landscape of the war-stricken state is not yet clear, it would be unwise for the government to lead the aid project in fear of being thought of as siding with a particular party in the conflict, Lai said.

Cummings echoed Lai's view, saying: "In this particular case, the government has to be neutral."

The Rotary Club of Luchou (蘆洲), Taipei County, has already agreed to donate US$10,000 to purchase much-needed items for Liberian refugees in need of help, Lai said.

Materials instead of financial donations are preferred, Lai said.

The ambassador said the materials would be channeled into the hands of Liberian refugees through a local branch of the Rotary Club in the name of the newly founded "Taiwan Liberia Emergency Relief Network."

Since Charles Taylor -- a former warlord -- became president of the country in 1997, Taiwan has remained a major source of help to the country and the people of Liberia have been grateful to Taiwan regardless of their factions and political orientations, Cummings said.

Donations can be made through the Liberian embassy. The contact number is (02) 28751212.

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