Tue, Mar 22, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Many foreign spouses `missing'

HERE TODAY, GONE TOMORROW A survey by the Taipei County Government found that 43 percent of foreign spouses in the county do not live where they said they did

By Cody Yiu  /  STAFF REPORTER WITH CNA

Forty-three percent of foreign spouses in Taipei County do not live where they are supposed to, according to a recent survey by the county's Civil Affairs Bureau released yesterday.

Since last October, the bureau stepped up the number of social workers conducting large-scale door-to-door visits to all 47,191 foreign and Chinese who live -- or are at least had registered to live -- in Taipei County.

"There are three reasons that a particular foreign spouse cannot be found. They no longer reside at their registered address, are not present at the time of a house visit, or have since divorced their Taiwanese spouse," Lee Chiu-lan (李秋蘭), an officer with the bureau's population affairs section said yesterday.

The survey showed that 10,211 individuals no longer reside at their registered addresses, 3,502 have divorced and 6,933 were no longer in the country.

With regard to the missing foreign spouses who are still in Taiwan, authorities are now seeking help from local police to locate them.

As of Aug. 31 last year, 11,894 foreign spouses and 35,284 Chinese spouses were registered as residing in Taipei County.

The door-to-door survey was part of the New Residents Education and Counseling Project undertaken by the county government's department of education, in cooperation with the police, transportation, public health, social affairs and labor departments.

According to 2004 figures provided by the Ministry of the Interior's Department of Statistics, Taipei County had the highest number of married couples where one of spouses was a foreign or Chinese national.

Last year, 5,062 cross-national couples registered to be married in Taipei County, which made up 16.17 percent of total number of cross-national married couples that year, followed by 2,961 in Taipei City and 2,937 in Taoyuan County.

By the end of last year, the total number of foreign and Chinese spouses in Taiwan was estimated to be at 338,000, with 122,000 registered as naturalized citizens.

The Central News Agency reported yesterday that the bureau's director of civil affairs, Chang Hung-lu (張宏陸), said that foreign and Chinese spouses who had been visited wished to seek employment security in Taiwan.

According to the report, the greatest needs expressed by the survey's participants were, employment services, vocational training and labor rights.

In addition, the majority of foreign spouses were also keen on learning Taiwanese and Mandarin and hoped to participate in language classes. Many were interested in understanding Taiwan's social welfare regulations, taking driving lessons and getting legal advice on national health insurance.

Pan Wen-chuang (潘文忠), director of Taipei County's bureau of education, said that in order to help foreign spouses learn Chinese, every elementary school in the county should offer special language programs for foreign spouses.

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