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Taiwan Navy vessel to ship prefabricated houses to ally Palau

A Navy vessel that just concluded a mission to send relief supplies to the Philippines earlier this month will soon be leaving Taiwan again to transport prefabricated houses to Palau to help in the Pacific island's post-Haiyan reconstruction, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday.

The R.O.C. tank-landing ship Chung He (中和艦), to be loaded with 60 sets of prefabricated houses, is scheduled to depart for the island, which is one of Taiwan's diplomatic allies, in the coming days, MOFA spokeswoman Anna Kao (高安) said yesterday.

Kao said related preparations are now in progress, and the ministry hopes that the ship can depart before the end of this week.

Chung He returned to Taiwan on Dec. 5 after sending 500 tons of relief supplies donated by Taiwanese nationals to Cebu, Philippines, to help victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

Aside from donating prefabricated houses, Kao said yesterday that Taiwan has previously donated US$100,000 to Palau to help with reconstruction work after the Western Pacific nation was hit by Typhoon Haiyan earlier last month.

A state of emergency was declared for the island country of 21,000 residents after it was battered on Nov. 6-7 by powerful winds and downpours brought by Haiyan, said the ministry.

The storm caused an estimated US$5 million in damage to infrastructure and schools, it said.

No Conflict with MOFA

Meanwhile, the head of the Red Cross Society of the Republic of China yesterday denied a media report of a recent conflict with MOFA over deliveries of relief aid to Palau.

Taiwan Red Cross Chairwoman Wang Ching-feng (王清峰) told the Central News Agency yesterday that she is not dissatisfied with any relevant government agency and is instead grateful for the assistance they have provided.

Wang made the remarks when asked to comment on a report made by the weekly magazine The Journalist (新新聞) a day earlier that said the Red Cross had asked for MOFA's help to cover the cost of shipping relief materials to Palau.

However, Wang was angry because the ministry did not reply in a timely manner, according to the report.

Asked to comment, Wang said the Red Cross Society had not asked the ministry to cover the shipping costs of delivering temporary housing units to Palau.

The charity organization only asked the ministry's assistance to help verify the authenticity of a letter presumably from Palau President Tommy E. Remengesau, Jr. Shortly afterward, and the ministry confirmed the letter as being genuine, she added.

After receiving the letter, the Taiwan Red Cross contacted the Ministry of the Interior, which agreed to provide 60 prefabricated houses, she said.

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