Sun, Jan 14, 2018 - Page 3 News List

History makes Taiwanese attentive to migrants: Tsai

Staff writer, with CNA

Taiwanese are empathetic to migrants and refugees because of the nation’s history and status as an immigrant society, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said in a letter to Pope Francis.

The letter, which was released by the Presidential Office on Friday, was in recognition of the pope’s support of migrants and refugees in his message for this year’s World Day of Peace titled “Migrants and Refugees: Men and Women in Search of Peace.”

The pope’s message, which was released on Nov. 24 last year and delivered on Jan. 1, urged countries to view global migration “with confidence as an opportunity to build peace” instead of seeing it as a threat.

In her letter, Tsai called the message “a timely statement on the international situation, in which the plight of persecuted refugees and migrants makes headlines on a daily basis.”

The pope said that many people migrate out of desperation, because their own countries offer neither safety nor opportunity, Tsai said, adding that Taiwanese feel deeply for these people as “their plight reflects our own history.”

The first wave of mass immigration to Taiwan occurred 300 years ago, when people fled poverty across the Taiwan Strait, while another major wave happened in 1949, when 2 million people fled war, Tsai said, adding that these migrants “struggled together to forge a new destiny on this land.”

There are 600,000 blue-collar immigrants and 500,000 foreign spouses in Taiwan, most of whom come from Southeast Asia, she said.

“We see them as an infusion of new strength and a force for cultural diversity,” Tsai wrote.

In response to the pope’s call for compassion for refugees, Taiwan is also providing long-term support for Syrian refugee camps in Jordan, refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan and Burmese refugee camps in Thailand, Tsai said.

The pope’s message would hopefully “increase awareness and lead to action that relieves the misery of immigrants and refugees throughout the world,” she said.

The Holy See is Taiwan’s only diplomatic ally in Europe and one of 20 worldwide. It has had formal ties with the Republic of China since 1942.

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