Taiwan details aid to Ethiopia in wake of WHO head criticism

Ethiopia nationals pose for picture while receiving training in a hospital in Taiwan some time in 2018. Photo taken from Tri Service General Hospital Facebook page.

TAIPEI (CNA) — Following accusations by the World Health Organization (WHO) chief that Taiwan has been behind racially abusive attacks made against him over the past three months amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Taiwan’s government responded Thursday by detailing its aid to Ethiopia.

In addition to a stern complaint from President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) earlier the same day, the MOFA-affiliated International Cooperation and Development Fund (ICDF) said Taiwan has helped Ethiopia — the home country of WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus — for many years.

Through semi-official or non-governmental channels, Taiwan has extended humanitarian aid to Ethiopia in a broad range of areas — livelihood improvements, health care, nutrition, food/water supply, education, children and women’s rights as well as social support, the ICDF said.

For instance, it said, three Ethiopia nationals took part in its “environment monitoring and catastrophe prevention” and “projection and management of science industrial parks” programs in 2012 and the “clean power development strategy” workshop in 2017.

During their two-week stay in Taiwan, the ICDF said it paid each Ethiopian participant NT$150,000 (US$5,000) to cover the cost of airplane tickets, courses, food, accommodation and transport.

In 2018, five nationals from the African country participated in a “fostering program for medics from friendly countries” in Taiwan, receiving training at Mackay Memorial Hospital and the Tri Service General Hospital free of charge, according to the ICDF.

During the Ethiopian nationals’ one-to-three-month stay in Taiwan, their spending was covered by different agencies, with the ICDF covering costs of NT$70,000 for each of them, it said.

Taiwan private-sector organizations, including Taiwan Fund for Children and Families, World Vision and other NGOs, have also extended help to Ethiopia through fund raising, child adoptions, and cooperative ventures with local Ethiopians.

In March, an Ethiopian exchange student received a deep vein thrombosis operation in Taiwan, the cost of which — NT$1.45 million — was paid by the hospital, the Taiwan charter of Kiwanis International and donations made by the public.

Meanwhile, Taiwan has also reached out to Eswatini in southern Africa — Taiwan’s sole diplomatic partner in that continent.

Yang Syin-yi (Ali Yang, 楊心怡), director of MOFA’s Department of West Asian and African Affairs, told a new briefing later Thursday that the embassy in Eswatini has teamed up with Taiwan’s agricultural mission to hold seminars as part of its efforts to help foreign diplomatic missions and Taiwan business people there combat the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s embassy has purchased protective gear, gloves, disposable hair caps/shoe covers and alcohol hand sanitizer from neighboring countries for medical care personnel in Eswatini, and 60,000 face masks donated by Taiwan are set to arrive soon, he said.

According to Yang, government authorities or private entities from Jordan, Mongolia, Nigeria and Kuwait have sought Taiwan’s assistance in the fight against the COVID-19 disease.

MOFA is engaged in many relevant projects, pending further instructions from the Central Epidemic Command Center, Yang said.

On Thursday, Taiwan announced its second round of humanitarian assistance to the global community, with 6 million masks to be donated to European Union member states, Southeast Asian countries, some U.S. states, and some Latin American and Caribbean countries.

The move came after MOFA announced Taiwan’s first such donation on April 1 since the COVID-19 disease was first detected in China in late December — 7 million masks to 11 European countries, 2 million to the United States and 1 million to Taiwan’s diplomatic allies.

MOFA spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said at a news conference that the first 1 million masks will soon arrive in the designated countries.

In recent years, Taiwan-based NGOs have conducted 10 charitable clinics in several African countries that included Eswatini, Chad and Kenya, MOFA officials told CNA.

Last year, Taiwan also donated 17,000 tons of rice to Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique, they said.

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