10 March, 2016: Tokyo / Geneva. Five years on from the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan’s northeast coastline on March 11, 2011, thousands of displaced families and elderly people are still unable to return home and are in need of support from humanitarian organisations such as the Red Cross.
Over 16,000 people died in the disaster and more than 470,000 people were displaced from their homes across the affected area. Today some 170,000 are either housed in temporary or rented accommodation or have moved to restart their lives in others parts of the country.
“While many of the young have moved on in search of new opportunities, many older people have been left behind in temporary housing,” said Tadateru Konoé, President of the Japanese Red Cross Society and of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). “As these temporary housing sites slowly empty, those who remain are left more vulnerable and more alone as their communities break-up. Red Cross volunteers continue to play an important role in supporting this fragile population”.
Because of the unprecedented scale of the disaster, reconstruction will take many more years. In Fukushima radioactive contamination from the damaged Daiichi nuclear plant has prevented over 100,000 families from returning home. Now, thanks to decontamination efforts some families have been able to visit temporarily or return home permanently.
Japanese Red Cross staff and volunteers have accompanied many evacuees through the past five years, helping to develop a sense of community by bringing people together and organising social events and activities. But the Red Cross has also been delivering medical services and has made a significant contribution towards reconstruction efforts; building permanent homes and supporting the construction or reconstruction of at least six temporary or permanent hospitals hit by the disaster in Miyagi and Fukushima.
With the support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the world, the Japanese Red Cross Society has set up a Nuclear Disaster Resource Centre aimed at improving community preparedness around future technological or nuclear disasters. The centre includes a digital library which is built on the real experiences and learning of Red Cross medical staff who responded in the wake of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima. Based on these experiences, the Japanese Red Cross Society is designing an operational manual for responding to future nuclear accidents.
“This initiative is designed to serve as a platform for networking with nuclear experts and authorities and will contribute to a worldwide drive towards greater nuclear disaster preparedness by the IFRC.” said President Konoé.
Since the disaster, the Japanese Red Cross Society has received more than 60 billion JPY (CHF 480 million, EUR 450 million) from National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies around the world. As of March, 2016, approximately 95.4 per cent of this amount (JPY 57.3 billion) had been spent on relief and recovery activities. All remaining funds have been allocated mainly to on-going large-scale construction projects expected to be completed in 2018.
For more information on the Japanese Red Cross recovery efforts, visit our microsite on the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami here
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