Taiwan Red Cross suspends Facebook page

Taiwan Red Cross suspends Facebook page

The Red Cross Society of the R.O.C. suspended its Facebook page yesterday amid calls to avoid giving donations to the organisation from netizens who accused it of deducting large amounts of contributions to cover administrative costs.

The calls came after the society began fundraising on Sunday in wake of the April 25 earthquake in Nepal for an ultimate goal of NT$30 million (S$1.2 million).

Netizens, including actress Cheng Chia-chun, began posting on Facebook calling for a boycott of the Red Cross Society's fundraising drive, alleging that large amounts of money are used to cover the organisation's administrative fees, rather than for humanitarian purposes. After a deluge of critical posts were posted on the society's official Facebook page, the Red Cross took the page offline.

Critics say that the Red Cross Society only donated NT$430 million of the NT$2.57 billion collected in Taiwan for the Fukushima disaster of 2011. They also accuse the organisation of rejecting applications for aid from residents following the 2014 Kaohsiung gas explosions.

The Red Cross flatly denied the figures, saying that 99.86 per cent of donations went to disaster relief efforts, a figure that it said was verified by the Japanese Red Cross. In response to the rejected applications for aid, the Society said that those rejections were due to the fact that some residents had already been compensated by authorities.

The society's spokesman, Hsu Hsiao-tzi, replied that humanitarian priorities meant that it did not have the resources or manpower to respond to messages left on its Facebook page. Hsu added that the organisation's official Facebook site would probably remain offline in the coming days. He said that false information had been circulating over the Internet despite repeated refutations and explanations from the Red Cross.

Relief Aid from Taiwan Begins to Arrive

Yesterday afternoon, personnel from a combined disaster relief force comprised of the Red Cross, International Headquarters Search and Rescue Taiwan, Buddha's Light International Association R.O.C. and the Kaohsiung Chang Gung Hospital few to Nepal.

Meanwhile, the Tzu Chi Foundation also announced yesterday that its medical teams had arrived in Kathmandu along with one ton of emergency medical supplies, enough to provide for 1,000 patients. According to the foundation, medical teams will begin relief operations today.

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