Tue, Nov 20, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Bangladesh snubs offer of aid to deal with disaster

By Jenny W. Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan has offered assistance to Bangladesh following Cyclone Sidr last week, but Dhaka has ignored the offer because of the lack of diplomatic relations between the two countries, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said.

International humanitarian organizations have been working closely with local army troops in the rescue efforts.

Taiwan has not dispatched any aid workers, financial assistance, or donations to Bangladesh, but hopes to do so as soon as Dhaka gives the go-ahead.

MOFA Deputy Spokeswoman Phoebe Yeh (葉菲比) told the Taipei Times yesterday that representatives to Bangladesh had established contacts with local officials, who were reluctant to accept the offer because of Dhaka's close ties with China.

"Bangladesh has always refused to have any country-to-country interactions with Taiwan because of its relations with China. Taiwan usually offers humanitarian aid via NGOs," she said.

Yeh said Taiwan International Health Action, an international humanitarian medical service under the MOFA, was evaluating how it could best help with disaster relief.

This was not the first time a humanitarian offer by Taiwan had been rejected by a country over political considerations. In October 2005 Pakistan refused to issue visas to Taiwanese rescue workers after a major earthquake.

Pakistani officials had initially agreed to issue landing visas for the 38 Taiwanese workers, but later reneged on their word. The Taiwanese team was told it could not enter Pakistan as its members were changing planes at Bangkok airport.

It is believed that Beijing may have intervened at the last minute and demanded that Pakistan bar the Taiwanese workers from providing humanitarian assistance to Pakistan.

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