Thu, Sep 23, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan unclear on level of relief for storm-ravaged Haiti

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) expressed his condolences to the Haitian government as the death toll in the storm-ravaged country passed 700, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.

The president, Premier Yu Shyi-kun and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mark Chen (陳唐山) sent messages of sympathy to their counterparts in Haiti, which is struggling to cope with the devastation caused by Tropical Storm Jeanne, ministry spokesman Michel Lu (呂慶龍) said.

The Haitian government has announced that the nation will mourn the dead for three days and declared Gonaives, the coastal city worst hit by the storm, a disaster zone.

The nation's ambassador to Haiti, Hsieh Hsin-ping (謝新平), is trying to assess what is needed for disaster relief and reconstruction.

"The ministry's Non-Governmental Organization International Affairs Committee will call on the public to donate goods to Haiti," the spokesman said.

Because Taiwan has also experienced severe flooding and mudslides in recent weeks, the ministry did not say how much aid it was planning to give Haiti.

"We'll see how much in donations we can get," Lu said.

The ministry will send a Florida-based Taiwanese medical team to Haiti. The Taiwan Root Medical Peace Corps also dispatched a team to Gonaives earlier this month, Lu said.

Mark Chen, who is now visiting the US after a trip to ally Grenada, which was devastated by Hurricane Ivan, does not plan to travel to Haiti at the moment.

Meanwhile, Taiwan's embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital, has continued to keep a close eye on the activities of Chinese riot police that arrived in Haiti earlier this month as part of a UN peacekeeping force.

The Department of Central and South American Affairs has been on high alert over China's presence in the region.

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