Water appeal launched
World Vision Taiwan yesterday appealed to the public for donations to help children in developing countries gain access to clean drinking water. About 768 million people around the world do not have access to clean water and millions, many of them children, die each year from water, sanitation and hygiene-related diseases, the charity said, citing UN figures. Having to walk long distances to collect water every day has also prevented many children from going to school, World Vision Taiwan said during its appeal. Donations can be made through the charity’s Chinese-language Web site. The funds are earmarked to go toward digging wells, developing water resources and providing hygiene and sanitation education in countries including Myanmar, Mali, Mozambique, Niger and Lesotho, the charity said.
Smoking bans announced
Smoking outside of designated areas will be forbidden at national parks and scenic areas around Taiwan starting on April 1, the Ministry of Health and Welfare announced yesterday. Under the new policy, smoking will also be banned at outdoor concerts, including at the Spring Scream and Spring Wave Music and Art festivals, which are scheduled to take place in Kenting National Park next month. Subjecting people to second-hand smoke is a violation of their basic human rights, the ministry said, adding that violators will be subject to fines of between NT$2,000 and NT$10,000. If a park or scenic area does not have any designated smoking areas, smoking will not be allowed anywhere on the premises, the administration said.
Israel suspends visa service
Israel’s representative office in Taiwan said yesterday that it has suspended the processing of visa applications, following a strike by its Ministry of Foreign Affairs amid a labor dispute in the Middle Eastern country. The office said it is currently not accepting applications or issuing visas for travel to Israel, but otherwise continues to operate normally. It is not known when the office will resume consular services, it said. The suspension of consular services could affect people seeking visas for work or study in Israel, but Taiwanese citizens traveling for tourism purposes will have no problem because they do not require a visa for such trips of up to 90 days, the office said. The strike was the latest move by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs personnel to demand better working conditions.
Taipei tops life expectancy
The life expectancy of Taipei citizens reached an average of 82.66 years in 2012, the highest among all the cities and counties in the nation, the Taipei City Department of Budget, Accounting and Statistics said yesterday. That year, the average life expectancies for citizens of the other four special municipalities were 80.5 in New Taipei City, 76.16 in Greater Taichung, 78.59 in Greater Tainan and 78.36 in Greater Kaohsiung, according to Ministry of the Interior statistics. In Taipei, the average life expectancy of male citizens was 80, while that of women reached 85.3, the department said, attributing the results to better health and medical care facilities and the city’s policy of establishing a comprehensive daycare and home service network for senior citizens.