Tue, Dec 28, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Chen sends condolences to nations hit by tsunami

CNA , Taipei

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) sent his condolences to the Asian countries hit by an earthquake and tsunamis on Sunday that killed thousands of people in the largest regional disaster in a century, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman said yesterday.

Michel Lu (呂慶龍) said the ministry has set up a taskforce, with Minister of Foreign Affairs Mark Chen (陳唐山) serving as convener, to deal with Taiwan's relief to the affected countries, including Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka. The government has also opened a telephone hotline (0912-581-007) to accept donations from the public.

As it normally takes two to three weeks to open an official account for relief funds, which would slow down Taiwan's aid to the affected countries, the government might take the same action as it did to collect aid for Iraqi war refugees last year -- having the ministry's chief launch a public activity aimed at calling for donations to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Taiwan that are able to transfer relief to the affected countries in the shortest possible time, according to Lu.

Lu said the ministry is scheduled to meet with representatives of the country's nearly 20 NGO groups today to discuss the best ways to provide humanitarian aid to the affected countries. The ministry urged people who want to travel in the region to check travel warnings.

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