One Month after Disaster, American Red Cross Donations to Japanese Red Cross to Reach $100 million
WASHINGTON, Monday, April 11, 2011 — The American Red Cross today announced plans to make an additional commitment of $40 million to the Japanese Red Cross, which would bring its total contributions to $100 million. As funds currently pledged to the American Red Cross are received, additional contributions to the Japanese Red Cross will be made.
The announcement was made one month after a 9.0 earthquake and tsunami struck northern Japan, devastating communities, uprooting families and resulting in an ongoing crisis with damaged nuclear power plant facilities.
“The American public has responded quickly and generously to help the survivors of these tragedies, providing almost $158 million in donations and pledges to the American Red Cross for the Japan earthquake and tsunami response,” said David Meltzer, senior vice president of international services at the American Red Cross. “We will continue to transfer funds as they come in to our counterparts in Japan for continuing relief activities as well as early recovery programs.
The American Red Cross has already sent contributions of $60 million to the Japanese Red Cross for the earthquake and tsunami response. An additional $500,000 has been provided to the UN World Food Programme for the delivery and storage of relief items.
The Japanese Red Cross has begun to equip the first batch of 70,000 temporary homes, in the three worst affected prefectures, with a package of essential appliances. The appliances – worth an estimated $160 million that will help over 280,000 people – are part of Red Cross efforts to help survivors get back on their feet after the March 11th disasters.
The first 36 of these Japanese government-built prefabricated homes were handed over to residents in Iwate prefecture last Friday afternoon.
The Japanese Red Cross is supplying each home with a refrigerator, washing machine, rice cooker, microwave, television and hot water dispenser. The project is being funded by cash contributions from the American Red Cross and others in the global Red Cross network.
In addition, the Japanese Red Cross this week will transfer approximately $800 million to the committee responsible for handing out cash grants to survivors. These grants will range from $2,800 to $4,100 per family depending upon the extent of the loss they suffered. The Japanese Red Cross expects grants to be distributed directly by local municipalities beginning later this month. There will likely be future cash grants in coming months.
More than 154,000 people are still displaced by the disaster with the majority staying in over 2,200 evacuation centers spread across 17 prefectures, including the three worst-affected prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima. While electricity and water service are being restored and some survivors are returning to their homes, the evacuation centers are likely to stay open for months to come.
The Japanese Red Cross is making efforts to improve the living conditions in these centers – such as creating family spaces and more privacy with partitioning.
In coming weeks, the Japanese Red Cross will continue to place greater emphasis on early recovery. Up until this point, its major focus has been on emergency healthcare and relief distribution.
Hundreds of medical teams have been operating in Red Cross hospitals, in evacuation center clinics and out of mobile units that bring medical care to both smaller and more remote communities, as well as to the general public which has been unable to access such services due to the disruption of state services. Lonely and housebound elderly people, in particular, are being targeted in these often life-saving missions.
The Japanese Red Cross nationwide network has mobilized 579 teams from 92 hospitals in the response during the past month, and an additional 163 teams, including about 3,000 staff members, are being prepared for deployment.
The psychological toll on those who survived the disaster is presenting major challenges and the Japanese Red Cross continues to step up its efforts to provide psychological counseling. A psychological support center was established in the Ishinomaki Red Cross hospital five days after the disaster to support grieving families. Last week, on April 4th, a second center was established at the Iwate Red Cross branch in Morioka.
A psychological counselor has been assigned to almost all deployed medical teams, and their numbers are now going to be increased, particularly in the evacuation centers. In addition, six specialist psychological support teams, each consisting of six people, have also been deployed.
As part of the Red Cross relief operation, more than 125,000 blankets, 183,000 items of clothing, 26,000 emergency relief kits and 11,000 sleeping kits have been handed out to survivors staying in Red Cross evacuation centers.
WASHINGTON, March 29, 2011
Public Donates over $120 Million to American Red Cross to Assist Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Survivors
The American Red Cross today announced that the public has generously donated $120.5 million to help the people of Japan following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. The announcement was made Tuesday at a press conference at the Japanese embassy with Japan’s Ambassador to the United States Ichiro Fujisaki and American Red Cross Chairman Bonnie McElveen-Hunter.
The money will go to the Japan earthquake and Pacific tsunami response, specifically the Japanese Red Cross, which is providing direct emergency relief, medical services and emotional counselling to affected communities. The American Red Cross committed an initial $10 million in the early days after the disaster and will provide the Japanese Red Cross with another $50 million in the next few days. The remainder of the funds will be made available as they come in.
In addition to the funds provided to support work by the Japanese Red Cross, the American Red Cross has given $500,000 to the United Nation’s World Food Programme for logistics support for the delivery and storage of relief items for survivors. The American Red Cross also has been assisting in the voluntary evacuations of military families from Japan.
“Almost three weeks after one of the most devastating earthquakes in history, we are immensely grateful to the American public for their continued generosity,” said David Meltzer, senior vice president of international services with the American Red Cross. “As part of the world’s largest humanitarian organization, the American Red Cross is eager to support our counterparts in the Japanese Red Cross, whose staff and volunteers are working tirelessly to meet the immense needs of their people.”
“The American public and we at the American Red Cross have not forgotten the generosity of the Japanese people when we suffered tremendous loss after the 9/11 attacks and, more recently, after Hurricane Katrina,” said Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the American Red Cross. “Collectively, the Japanese Red Cross sent us contributions of close to $30 million. Now it is our opportunity – and our duty – to do what we can to help you.”
The American Red Cross expects these funds will be used to fund immediate relief activities such as providing supplies and medical care. Over time, it is likely that some of the contributions will be used for longer-term recovery. The American Red Cross has been in close contact with its partners in the Asia Pacific region since the earthquake to offer its support. The Japanese Red Cross has expressed its gratitude for the support of the American people and the American Red Cross.
The Japanese Red Cross is a highly experienced disaster relief organization with 2 million registered volunteers, many of whom have responded to help their neighbors affected by the earthquake, tsunami and evolving nuclear emergency.
Red Cross volunteers and staff in Japan continue to provide health care, emotional support activities and relief items to people affected. The Japanese Red Cross has dozens of medical teams operating in Red Cross hospitals and mobile clinics treating those affected by the disasters.
Immediately after the earthquake and tsunami, the Red Cross dispatched relief items from stocks to assist those affected, and has provided 125,500 blankets and 25,000 emergency kits. The Red Cross is increasing its relief operations for survivors in evacuation centers and is planning to provide supplies for 100,000 people. It is also working with local authorities on ways to help people still living in evacuation centers.
Overall, the conditions for survivors appear to be improving: the number of people in shelters in Japan has dropped to 244,000 from what had been the high of nearly half a million. More supplies and fuel are also reaching affected areas. However, the needs are still overwhelming and uncertainty around several Japanese nuclear reactors and associated health risks remains a major concern.
Friday, March 25, 2011
Red Cross SAF Staffer and Family Continue Their Life in Japan
The American Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) staff in Japan continues to help military family members prepare for their return to the United Sates during the current Department of Defense (DoD) voluntary departure.
While others are evacuating, many SAF workers and their families are staying in the country so devastated by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Ken Romero is the SAF station manager serving both the Naval Air Facility Atsugi and Camp Zama in Japan. He and his wife and two young children have chosen to remain in Japan.
The Atsugi and Camp Zama facilities are only a short distance from Tokyo and did not see any damage from the tsunami which caused widespread destruction in the northern end of the country.
“I know the situation up north is much worse,” Romero said. He described how people in his area are getting their water from water buffaloes, and have received iodine tablets in case of any radiation dangers from the damaged nuclear power plants. “We have orders not to take them unless told to do so,” he said.
“We are still having rolling power outages, and fuel is not always available,” Romero reported. “There are still tremors, and at night my kids sleep with us, but they are going to school. To see how the Japanese are dealing with this, accepting the situation and finding a way to make things work is encouraging.”
As military families depart, many with young children, SAF workers are helping process their ticketing, and directing them from the staging area to terminals and aircrafts. Red Cross workers are also providing snacks and drinks for the dependents. At Yokota Air Base, the Red Cross is providing canteen services for inbound military rescue and relief personnel.
Romero said hundreds of dependents will be leaving from Camp Zama and NAF Atsugi during what can be a long process. On the day of departure, family members bring their luggage to a gymnasium and then are released to have dinner. Buses then pick them up at their base housing and bring them back to the gym, where roll call is taken. Family members are then bused to Yokota Air Force Base, to board both military and commercial airliners for their long flight to the United States.
As the families arrive stateside, Red Cross mental health professionals are on site to offer emotional support. The Red Cross is also providing canteen services at the airports, assistance with contacting family members, and handing out food, snacks and toiletries.
Computers are available at the military installations in Japan as well as at the arrival points in the U.S. to help military families register on the Red Cross “Safe and Well” web site to let loved ones know of their well-being.
“These families have been through an earthquake, tsunami and a radiation event,” said Lynne Flynn, Fleet Family Readiness Director, Naval Base Kitsap. “They were given 30 minutes to a few hours to pack and leave and they weren’t sure if they would be in the U.S. for days or weeks. After a 20-hour flight, we knew everyone would arrive hungry, scared and confused.
“The American Red Cross has been instrumental in providing support – healthy snacks for the children and warm meals for the entire family,” Flynn added. “All I can say is that the Red Cross has made a real difference.”
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Red Cross Scales Up Relief Efforts to Meet Huge Needs in Japan
The American Red Cross has made an initial contribution of $10 million to the Japanese Red Cross Society and is funding about half of the United Nations World Food Programme’s (WFP) logistical operation designed to help move and store relief supplies post-disaster.
“The support of the American people and our partnership with the American Red Cross is critical for WFP and the Japanese authorities to provide a flow of relief supplies to those suffering from so much tragedy and hardship,” said Nancy Roman, WFP’s director of communications, public policy and private partnerships.
Wednesday, March 23, 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 centers following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, which devastated large tracts of northeastern Honshu, the main island of Japan.
Today, about 264,000 people are staying in the approximately 1,800 shelters operated by the government and supported by the Japanese Red Cross. Each day, approximately 10,000 people leave the evacuation centers and return to their homes as electricity is restored. But most do not know how long they will remain in the public shelters.
“The Japanese Red Cross is also involved in looking after those in evacuation centers who have been forced to leave their homes in the exclusion zone that’s been created around the nuclear facility, “ said Francis Markus, a Red Cross spokesperson working from Japan. “This adds to the complexity of the humanitarian situation.”
To date, the Japanese Red Cross has handed out more than 125,000 blankets and 20,700 emergency kits – including portable radios, flashlights and other supplies – to help evacuees cope with the cold weather and lack of electricity. Other badly needed items, such as diapers, baby food, undershirts and face masks, are being procured from within the country as well. These additional supplies will benefit approximately 100,000 people.
In parallel with the distribution of relief goods, Japanese Red Cross leaders are also consulting with the local authorities to map out other ways of making survivors’ lives more comfortable during their stay in evacuation centers.
“The first few days people had one rice ball a day, then two and now, on the sixth day, are eating three meals a day,” said Nan Buzard, senior director of international response and programs with the American Red Cross, during her week-long mission in Japan which ended Saturday, March 20. “But without fuel and stoves there is no heat, and I hate to think how miserable it will be when night comes. No electricity means no water though there were some buckets for minimal washing.”
The Japanese Red Cross is exploring ways to bring hot showers and improve the sanitation facilities in the government-run shelters. And with advocacy, fuel and food deliveries are becoming more regular.
Since the disaster, which left more than 8,000 dead and many thousands more missing, the Japanese Red Cross has also focused its operations on providing medical care to those affected by the disaster.
To date, the Japanese Red Cross has deployed nearly 275 medical teams, made up of more than 1,600 people, including doctors and nurses. Currently, more than 40 teams are working through hospitals, mobile clinics and other health facilities to provide medical care and counseling for survivors. The psychological wellbeing of a mainly elderly population that has been traumatized by the destruction of their homes and traditional way of life will remain a priority.
“This is going to be an enormous recovery operation,” said Buzard. “We saw hundreds of thousands of people displaced – many elderly who will need particular kinds of care. That will be a challenging opportunity but a challenge to all (Red Cross and Red Crescent) national societies who are going to work with the Japanese Red Cross to support them – not only getting relief to people who are still suffering a trauma but (dealing with) the long-term trauma of displacement and losing all of the things that matter to them.”
As longer-term plans are formed, the Japanese Red Cross also expects to offer further support to the most vulnerable when they are relocated to prefabricated housing organized by the Japanese government in the coming weeks and months.
Officials from the Japanese Red Cross have publicly said they are grateful for donations from the American Red Cross and that they will go far to support these relief and recovery activities.
March 16, 2011
American Red Cross Responding to Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami
For the 80 Japanese Red Cross medical teams deployed to provide care for the evacuees, coping with trauma will fast become the biggest challenge.
The Red Cross medical teams have fanned out across the length of the 400-kilometre-long (nearly 250 miles) disaster zone. Within 24 hours of the disaster striking, they had set up a network of emergency response units from where five-person teams, comprised of doctors and nurses, operate – moving out to different evacuation centers in nearby towns each day.
In one of the evacuation centers, where at least 500 people lie huddled on strips of cardboard under piles of blankets, it is clear that this is a tragedy that has hit the young and elderly the hardest.
“This is the worst I have ever seen in my career working with the Red Cross,” said the Japanese Red Cross President, Tadateru Konoé, during a recent visit to Otsuchi. “It brings back memories of the scenes at the end of the Second World War, when cities like Tokyo and Osaka were flattened by bombing.”
It took Toda Kazuko 12 hours driving through the night from his hometown of Kobe to reach Otsuchi. Within hours of arriving, a tented clinic had sprung up and members of the team were treating patients in the evacuation centers. A veteran of the Red Cross Haiti earthquake operation, Kazuko was totally focused on the job at hand.
“We have more than 700 staff deployed and in four days the next rotation comes in,” he said before having to leave abruptly as an elderly woman shivering uncontrollably is stretchered in to the clinic, suffering from hypothermia.
March 14, 2011
The American Red Cross has raised nearly $8 million to support relief after Japan’s disaster, with US companies also offering multimillion-dollar donations, representatives said Monday.
The American Red Cross said the funds would be sent to its Japanese sister organization to support first aid, emotional support and relief for the displaced.
March 12, 2011
The American Red Cross is offering assistance to the Japanese Red Cross following Friday’s magnitude 9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami that left towns and villages in Japan devastated.
Since early Friday morning, we have been in close contact with our colleagues in the Pacific region to offer our support and learn more about the humanitarian needs. The Japanese Red Cross has indicated that it would accept financial support from the American Red Cross for its role providing first aid, emotional support and relief items to those displaced.
On Sunday, the American Red Cross will deploy a disaster management expert from its Washington, DC headquarters to Japan for a week-long mission. She will serve on a seven-person, international team focused on providing high-level support and advice to the Japanese Red Cross, which continues to lead the local earthquake and tsunami response.
In the first 24 hours, the Japanese Red Cross dispatched 62 response teams. These medical relief teams – made up of about 400 doctors, nurses and support staff – are already providing assistance in affected areas through mobile medical clinics, as well as assessing the damage and needs of the communities affected.
More than 300,000 people who were evacuated before the tsunami struck have been housed in temporary centers set up in schools and public buildings where the Red Cross has distributed upwards of 30,000 blankets so far.
The damage caused to the Fukushima nuclear power plant has resulted in serious concerns. The Japanese Red Cross Society remains prepared to support those evacuated from the exclusion zone, and continues to closely monitor the situation.
Those who want to help can go to www.redcross.org and donate to Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami. People can also text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation to help those affected by the earthquake in Japan and tsunami throughout the Pacific.
To respond to the needs of those concerned about relatives in the affected regions International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is encouraging those living overseas to make use of its restoring family links web page: www.icrc.org/familylinks.