Japan: Red Cross scales up relief efforts to meet huge needs of tsunami survivors

Published: 22 March 2011

The Japanese Red Cross Society is scaling up its relief operations to help meet the needs of hundreds of thousands of survivors who are now housed in evacuation centres following the earthquake and tsunami which has devastated large tracts of north-eastern Honshu, the main island of Japan.

Over 125,530 blankets and 20,760 emergency relief packs have already been distributed and now further supplies of badly needed items are being procured from other parts of Japan, including nappies, baby food, undershirts and face masks. These supplies will target up to 100,000 people.

In parallel with the distribution of relief goods, Red Cross planners are also consulting with the local authorities to map out other ways of making survivors’ lives more tolerable during their stay in evacuation centres. These include the provision of hot showers and the improvement of sanitation facilities.

Further support will be offered to the affected populations when they are relocated to prefabricated housing in the coming weeks and months.

Since the disaster, which has left more than 8,000 dead and many thousands more missing, the Red Cross has focused its operations on providing medical care to those hit by the disaster, with dozens of medical teams operating in Red Cross hospitals and mobile clinics.

This approach will continue with a focus on the psychological well-being of a mainly elderly population that has been hard hit by the destruction of their homes and traditional way of life.

These plans will make use of donations generously contributed by the public through Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies in a range of countries – from North America and Europe to Japan’s Asian neighbours – including China, South Korea and Singapore.

A team from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Cross Societies (IFRC) is currently in Japan, working to support the Japanese Red Cross as it expands its activities.

The president of the Japanese Red Cross and the IFRC, Tadateru Konoé, recently travelled to some of the worst-affected areas in Myagi and Iwate prefectures.

 “This disaster is without doubt unprecedented in terms of the scale of damage and its comprehensive nature,” he says.

For those who would like real-time updates of activities on the ground, please follow the IFRC’s official twitter feed: twitter.com/Federation

For further information or to set up interviews, please contact:

In Japan
• Sayaka Matsumoto, public relations and media officer, Japanese Red Cross Society
Mobile: +81 90 6128 9100
E-mail: s-matsumoto@jrc.or.jp
• Francis Markus, communications delegate, East Asia, IFRC
Mobile: +81 80 3713 7324
E-mail: francis.markus@ifrc.org
• Katherine Mueller, communications delegate, IFRC
Mobile: +81 90 9820 8697
E-mail: katherine.mueller@ifrc.org

In Kuala Lumpur
• Patrick Fuller, communications manager, Asia Pacific, IFRC
Mobile: +60 12 230 8451
E-mail: patrick.fuller@ifrc.org
• Stephen Ryan, communications officer, Asia Pacific, IFRC
Mobile: +60 12 305 2811
E-mail: stephen.ryan@ifrc.org
• Reeni Amin Chua, communications officer, Asia Pacific, IFRC
Mobile: +60 19 274 4968
E-mail: reeni.aminchua@ifrc.org

In Geneva
• Paul Conneally, manager, media and public communication unit, IFRC
Mobile: +41 79 308 9809
E-mail: paul.conneally@ifrc.org
• Sadia Kaenzig, senior communications officer, IFRC
Tel.: +41 22 730 4455
E-mail: sadia.kaenzig@ifrc.org
Interviews can be arranged in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Japanese Portuguese and Spanish. Other languages may be available on request