Tue, Jan 11, 2005 - Page 4 News List

MOFA denies any interference with tsunami aid relief

CNA , TAIPEI

The spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied media reports yesterday that all of Taiwan's relief goods meant to be sent to South Asian countries are stuck at CKS International Airport because of diplomatic barriers.

Michel Lu (呂慶龍) said that as of Sunday, more than 20 tonnes of relief goods, medical supplies and disinfection materials have been airlifted by China Airlines to Indonesia, the hardest-hit country by the Dec. 26 earthquake.

Lu said that relief goods are getting through, and there has been no political interference to interrupt Taiwan's humanitarian aid.

The 20-odd tonnes of relief goods have been handed to members of the Tzu Chi Buddhist Compassionate Relief Foundation, the Taiwan Businessmen's Association and the Taiwan Alumni Society in Indonesia for distribution, Lu added.

The foreign ministry hopes that military transport planes can be allowed to join Taiwan's relief goods transport fleet so that the relief goods currently stockpiled can be airlifted to South Asia in the shortest possible time, Lu said, adding that hopefully the countries earmarked to receive the aid will agree to this.

Lu also denied that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has told private charitable organizations not to send relief goods to other South Asian countries, such as Sri Lanka and the Maldives, where Taiwan does not have liaison offices.

The private group Taiwan Roots Medical Peace Corps has contacted the Sri Lankan government, which has agreed to take 1,000 tonnes of rice from Taiwan. However, he pointed out, the bags of rice bear the Republic of China national flag.

If that turns out to be a problem, Lu said, the foreign ministry will ask that the rice be repacked to facilitate delivery to Sri Lanka.

So far, there is no plan yet to send relief goods to the Maldives since after being asked about their needs, the country's repres-entatives have not replied, he said.

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