Taiwan pledges US$500,000 to help victims of Somaliland fire

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Taipei, April 27 (CNA) Taiwan’s government has pledged to donate US$500,000 to the self-declared state of Somaliland to help the victims of a massive fire at its biggest market earlier this month, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced Wednesday.

A huge fire broke out at the Waheen market, Somaliland’s major trading and financial hub, on April 1, and authorities have estimated its economic impact at US$2 billion, or 60 percent of the de facto state’s gross domestic product, according to Al-Jazeera.

The blaze has seriously affected the livelihoods of thousands of people, and MOFA pledged the donation to offer emergency humanitarian assistance to those affected, said MOFA spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安).

The Somaliland government expressed its gratitude for the donation and said it will arrange a public ceremony at which the funds will be officially handed over, according to Ou.

Taiwan’s government will also work with other like-minded countries to jointly help Somaliland to rebuild the market in the future, she said.

According to the Somaliland government, a total of 1,000 shops and 4,200 stalls and tables in the market were destroyed, and over 17,000 people who relied directly on the market were affected.

Twenty-seven people were severely injured in the fire and rushed to the hospital for treatment, government figures showed.

Somaliland declared independence from Somalia in 1991 after years of conflict. It has offices in about a dozen countries, according to its foreign ministry’s website, but does not have formal diplomatic relations with any nation.

Relations between Taiwan and Somaliland have warmed over the years, with Taipei opening a representative office in Somaliland’s capital Hargeisa on Aug. 17, 2020, and the Somaliland authorities opening a reciprocal office in Taipei the following month on Sept. 9.