Many people living barely above the poverty line in Taiwan will now have access to much needed welfare programs. Taiwan’s Ministry of Health and Welfare recently changed the maximum income eligible for welfare assistance in numerous areas of the country. The change will mean that an additional thousands of people will qualify for assistance.

The poverty line increase is broken down into low and middle income categories and will vary based on region. For those who live in a majority of Taiwan, a low-income household will now qualify with an income of NT$10,869 (US $347), instead of the previous amount of NT$10,244. The medium-low income families will see an increase from NT$15,366 to NT$16,304.

These numbers vary in the counties Kinmen and Lienchiang, which will increase the poverty line for low-income households from NT$8,798 to NT$9,769. Medium-income families can expect the line to increase from NT$13,197 to NT$14,654. Five other municipalities will raise the threshold from NT$11,066 to NT$11,860, and the remaining regions have yet to specify their intended increases.

The implications of these new poverty lines are vast, given that about 50,000 more people will have access to welfare programs in Taiwan. These programs include household living costs, education fees, and national health insurance premiums. Since one of the factors affecting a country’s economic development is health care availability, these assistance programs will aid in improving Taiwan’s overall economy and citizen well-being.

– Mary Penn

Sources: Focus Taiwan, Taipei Times
Photo: BBC

October 1, 2013 marked the opening ceremony of the International Workshop on Strategies for Combating Human Trafficking in Taipei City, Taiwan. The workshop serves to stimulate conversation and collaboration for human rights protection and is organized by the National Immigration Agency under the Ministry of the Interior. Around 200 policy experts and officials from Taiwan and abroad attended, including those from Brazil, Canada, Vietnam, the U.K. and 16 other countries.

Vice President of the Republic of China (ROC), otherwise known as Taiwan, Wu Den-yih, took a staunch stance against human trafficking at the opening ceremony. He stated that protecting human rights is a universal value that needs international attention. He also highlighted the firm commitment of the ROC government against human trafficking and violations of human rights.

In the days after the opening ceremony, the workshop hosted six discussion panels ranging from topics pertaining the protecting the youth from sex crimes to trying to prevent modern-day slavery and labor exploitation. Many guest speakers were featured at panels, including officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

This year was the fourth consecutive year that the U.S. State Department awarded Taiwan the Tier 1 status of the U.S. State Department Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, based on the government’s effort to fight human trafficking. While the Department of State places countries into one of three tiers, this ranking has no indication of the prevalence of human trafficking in the country, or lack thereof. The ranking simply acknowledges the effort a government has made to make human trafficking a pressing concern in the national political discourse and to attempt to address the problem.

Nevertheless, Taiwan’s ranking demonstrates its commitment of protecting human rights and ending human trafficking. In recent years, Taiwan has been improving law enforcement training, strengthening support services by building shelters and providing temporary work, and establishing policy strictly prosecuting traffickers, such as the Human Trafficking Prevention Act.

– Rahul Shah

Sources: UNPO, AIT, US State Department
Photo: American Institute in Taiwan