The Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in New York on Thursday hosted a seminar on providing sustainable assistance to Syrian refugees.
The COVID-19 pandemic and Syria’s economic crisis has worsened the situation for Syrian refugees, which makes global assistance all the more important, office director James Lee (李光章) said in opening the seminar.
Taiwan has worked with like-minded countries and partners in offering humanitarian assistance to Syrian refugees and implemented more than 60 projects over the past eight years, including basic education, vocational training for women and psychological counseling for adolescents, he said.
Photo courtesy of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Permanent Representative to the UN Inga Rhonda King said that Taiwan and its partners have worked to alleviate the pain and suffering of refugees.
Climate change and the pandemic have affected refugees the most, she said, adding that this highlights the necessity to increase humanitarian aid.
Taiwan-Reyhanli Centre for World Citizens founder Chiu Chen-yu (裘振宇) talked about his experiences in assisting refugees in Reyhanli, Turkey, near the Syrian border.
High walls, which separate the countries, could have been put to better use in providing humanitarian aid, Chiu said.
When he helped build the center five years ago, he said he was astonished to find that it was the first facility for refugees in the area, despite a civil war having already ravaged Syria for six years at the time.
“We still have much to do,” he said, urging people from all over the world — regardless of religion, sex or age — to come together and help alleviate the crisis.
“The reason that 8 million refugees have led to a crisis for others is because no one feels they are responsible. If, on the other hand, everyone felt they had to be responsible, such things would not happen,” Chiu said.
Citing a fundraiser he held last year as an example, Chiu said that many people felt that it was a wasted effort, as Taiwan is far away from Syria.
With the assistance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he raised US$1 million in six months, providing the center’s finances some reprieve, Chiu said.
The international community has not done enough for Syrian refugees, Sovereign Order of Malta permanent observer to the UN Paul Beresford-Hill and Columbia University Center for Sustainable Development executive director Yanis Ben Amor said.
The international community should work on the application of new technology to help refugees, they added.
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