The endurance of the Japanese people have been incredible. It makes the majority of the human race barbaric in comparison. My prayers goes out to each and everyone of them.
Tsunami victims wait in the line to receive aid more than two weeks after the area was devastated by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami in a badly burnt area of Yamada town, Iwate Prefecture in northern Japan March 26, 2011. The March 11 quake and tsunami have left at least 27,000 dead and missing in northeast Japan. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj …
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.”