On the morning of June 7, President Tsai Ing-wen attended a donation ceremony for a care center—Casa di Love (House of Love)—for refugee women and children arriving in Europe. Besides expressing hope that the center will be completed as soon as possible to help refugees live a secure and decent life again, the president also stressed that the people of Taiwan want to make more contributions to the world, and that the government here will not ignore what its people want.
President Tsai listened to a briefing on the Casa di Love project from project manager Daniel Ku (顧卓雄), who explained how the undertaking got started. Afterward, in remarks, the president noted that the world was shocked last September by the photo of a boy Syrian refugee, Alan Kurdi, who had been drowned at sea and washed up on a beach in Turkey. Alan's entire family had taken to sea in a bid to escape civil war, and the president said she was deeply saddened to learn that only the father survived.
The president pointed out that Taiwan has long made many important contributions through its participation in international humanitarian aid. Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the International Cooperation and Development Fund (TaiwanICDF) can do even more through cooperative projects to help diplomatic allies achieve further development in such fields as medical care, agriculture, and education. In addition, said the president, a lot of friends from the NGO community have poured their hearts and energy into helping suffering people all over the world to escape hardship.
We have not forgotten, stated the president, that while we enjoy peace, people in many countries have been forced by war and political upheaval to flee their homes and risk great dangers in hopes of finding safety. According to United Nations (UN) statistics, there are now some 60 million refugees throughout the world who have no home to return to, she said.
The president stressed that the people of Taiwan treasure freedom and human rights above all else, so they should not look upon the refugee issue as someone else's problem. Taiwan may not be a UN member, but the people of Taiwan want just as much as any UN member to contribute to the world.
The president remarked that the Rising People Foundation, the Madam Hsieh H.Y. Foundation of Culture & Art, and the project initiator Daniel Ku are doing a very admirable thing by funding the construction of temporary housing for refugee women and children on Lampedusa, Italy–the island hosting the greatest number of refugees in Europe.
The Casa di Love care center, said the president, will be built to provide refugees a midway point between the home they have left and the new society they will assimilate into. At the center, issues such as administration, security, and education are very important, and they must be properly handled if a country's refugee policy is to be regarded as fully and properly in place.
The president then stated that today's donation ceremony demonstrates how much Taiwanese society cares for the international community, and it also shows the bona fide intention of the Taiwan government to do what it can to help alleviate the rapidly deteriorating refugee situation.
The president noted that the ceremony was attended by Lampedusa City Council Member Rosangela Mannino, Lebanese representative of the Madam Hsieh H.Y. Foundation of Culture & Art Marwam Saker, Head of the European Economic and Trade Office in Taiwan Madeleine Majorenko, Representative Donato Scioscioli of the Italian Economic, Trade and Cultural Promotion Office in Taipei, and Director Marco Benedetti of the Casa di Love project in Italy. She hoped the visitors will get a feel for the warmth of the Taiwanese people.
President Tsai emphasized that the people of Taiwan want to make more contributions to the world, and as president she guarantees that the government here will not ignore what its people want. She also extended her best wishes for the swift completion and smooth operation of the Casa di Love care center so that people forced far from their homes can quickly resume secure and decent lives.
The president and other distinguished guests then jointly initiated the donation ceremony.
Among those attending the event were Chairman Hsu Hsin-liang (許信良) of the Rising People Foundation, Founder William Hsieh (謝貞德) of the Madam Hsieh H.Y. Foundation of Culture & Art, and Deputy Secretary-General to the President Tseng Hou-jen (曾厚仁).