Substitute military service draftees participating in an International Cooperation and Development Fund foreign aid project tend plants in Saint Lucia in an undated photograph. Photo courtesy of the International Cooperation and Development Fund

OPEN UNTIL MAY 5: The program seeks to recruit 81 people who were drafted for the military for work in foreign aid and diplomacy in 14 countries

By Liu Tzu-hsuan / Staff reporter

Applications for substitute military service in diplomacy are to begin on Thursday, the International Cooperation and Development Fund (ICDF) said.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2001 commissioned the ministry-affiliated ICDF to design the recruitment program in an effort to expand the international vision of draftees, promote all-out diplomacy and nurture foreign aid talent, ICDF Deputy Secretary-General Chen Ai-chen ( Chen Aizhen) said.

The recruitment period for this year's program runs through May 5, she said, adding that Taiwan's foreign aid projects have become more diverse in response to the needs of partner countries and the nation's increased focus on climate change, resilience and capacity the globe building.

The program was expanded to recruit 81 draftees in 22 specialties such as agriculture, forestry, fishery, animal husbandry, healthcare, enterprise management, marketing, Spanish, information and communication, technical and vocational education, industrial management and disaster prevention.

The program is also to recruit draftees with expertise in video creation and graphic design, she said, citing a trend toward new media and audio-visual platforms.

The draftees would be deployed in 14 countries in Central and South America, the Caribbean, the Pacific Ocean and Africa, she said.

In the past 20 years, the program has sent more than 1,000 draftees to perform their military service abroad, she said.

The draftees have helped implement Taiwan's foreign aid projects and engaged in public welfare services, she said, adding that Taiwanese can learn about the nation's foreign aid effort through video recordings made by them.

Hundreds of draftees who participated in the program joined foreign technical missions or the fund after they were discharged from the military and became important forces to Taiwan's foreign aid work, she said.

Detailed recruitment information can be found on the National Conscription Agency's Web site

The fund's efforts to help Saint Kitts and Nevis recycle and treat solid waste have produced great outcomes, Chen said.

The fund in 2021 launched a three-year program to promote recycling and waste reduction in Taiwan's diplomatic ally in the Caribbean, she said.

The fund worked with local businesses to set up recycling stations near tourist attractions, supermarkets and schools, and has helped recycle 19 tons of waste, she said, adding that the stations incentivize recycling by providing eco-friendly shopping bags and tableware, as well as water filters.

The program also advocates against the use of disposable products to reduce waste, and organizes environmental courses and promotion activities at schools, she said.

The effort has been recognized and supported by the Saint Kitts and Nevis government, she said, adding that some local organizations have taken the initiative to contact the fund for consultation on recycling before holding recycling-related events.

News source: TAIPEI TIMES