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East Asia (MAA54001) Mid-Year Report 2012

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The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies (IFRC) East Asia regional office serves to support and build capacities within the national societies of the East Asia region. The region includes China, Mongolia, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the Republic of Korea, and Japan. The IFRC has annual programmes that support the national societies in China, Mongolia, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

China - In the first half of this year, China has mainly been hit by natural disasters of earthquake, drought, storm and heavy rainfall.

On 9 March, northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region was hit by a 6.0 magnitude earthquake, leaving 144,000 people in two counties affected, 37,000 people evacuated, 5,200 houses collapsed and 85,000 houses destroyed.[1] On 30 June, a 6.6-magnitude quake jolted Xinjiang, leaving over 150,000 people affected, 48,000 people displaced and 7,500 houses collapsed.[2]

A 5.7-magnitude earthquake jolted two counties in the border of southwest China's Yunnan and Sichuan provinces on 24 June. It was followed by 53 aftershocks and the strongest one was measured at magnitude 3.8. The earthquake split roads and disrupted water supplies in the two affected counties. As of 25 June, the earthquake has left 130,000 people affected, four people dead, 153 people injured, over 50,000 people evacuated to safe places, and 4,577 houses toppled.[3]

A severe drought parching the Yellow River and Huai River regions has affected normal agricultural production since March. As of 21 June, 5.17 million hectares of arable land in Henan, Anhui, Shandong and Inner Mongolia has been suffering drought conditions. The drought has also left 4.28 million people and 4.85 million heads of livestock in Yunnan, Hubei and Inner Mongolia short of drinking water.[4]

With the rainy season coming in May, heavy rains, storms and floods continue to strike Northwest and Central and Southwest part of China. At least 80 people have died, 200 injured with 300,000 people evacuated.[5]

In June, a new round of torrential rains began to hit southern and central China. A total of 399 counties in 11 provinces were affected by the torrential rains. As of 29 June, floods triggered by the torrential rains had killed 50 people with 42 still missing, affected the lives of over 10 million people, destroyed some 30,000 houses and inundated over 900,000 hectares of cropland.[6]

With the support of IFRC regional delegation, the Red Cross Society of China (RCSC) responded swiftly to the serious disasters with relief items and other assistance

DPRK – DPRK is vulnerable to different kinds of natural disasters and is in the process of setting up and improving early warning systems and disaster preparedness activities. Proper assessment of the overall situation in DPRK for the entire population and particularly the most vulnerable remain a main challenge, as international organizations do not have permission to access certain areas.

The food security situation has further deteriorated, but the absence of significant reliable statistics makes a proper assessment of the situation very difficult. A similar tendency in the health situation is noted; many clinics are in urgent need of rehabilitation, and turnover of distributed drugs is higher than before.

DPRK faced several disasters this year. In April/May, the entire country faced a spell drought, thus, there was a fear of massive decline in crop yield. In the middle of June, a flash flood surprisingly disaplced about 3,000 people in Toksonand Sinhung counties and damaged crops and infrastructures. Following this, a series of flooding displaced approximately 154,000 people.

While the situation remains tense on the Korean peninsula, no serious incidents have occurred during the first half of 2012, and relations with Japan have improved.

The DPRK RCS has received consistent support over the last decade from IFRC, its Red Cross sister societies and their donor governments, as well as from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).The need for humanitarian support through the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement and other international organizations is still acute, particularly in the areas of food, health, water and sanitation and disaster management.

Mongolia – Mongolia is a large country with a very low population density, but, is climatically and geographically one of the most disaster-prone areas in the world. The country experiences a spectrum of disasters ranging from heavy snowfalls in winter, strong winds and dust storms, drought, floods, earthquakes, and animal and human epidemic infectious diseases. Since 2009, Mongolia has experienced devastating natural disasters which have affected 600,000 people, and out of that figure nearly 20,000 families have been forced to migrate to urban areas and more than 25 per cent of all livestock died. These people have migrated in search of a new life after having lost everything, which is compounding social problems in already ill-equipped urban centres. Nearly half of its population residing in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar (1.4 million), 20 per cent of the population inhabit provincial centres where basic infrastructures are limited, and up to one-third of the population follow a pattern of transhumance or nomadic life-style.

Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia, is located along three active seismic faults. The potential impact of a high magnitude earthquake on Ulaanbaatar has been drawn from various available data. A combination of factors, which includes elements such as population density, structural integrity of buildings and vulnerabilities in the existing infrastructure, as well as a lack of awareness and disaster response skills in the community, raise concerns about a) the safety of the people and b) the readiness of key stakeholders that play an important role in disaster preparedness and response.

These existing concerns are heightened as the urban population in Ulaanbaatar continues to grow uncontrollably at an average of 75,000 people per annum. Natural disasters, climate change and shrinking agricultural returns have played a role in driving an increasing number of people from rural areas to the peri-urban surrounding major urban centres, particularly Ulaanbaatar. A majority of the country’s population now reside in or around Ulaanbaatar, many of whom are in ger[7] communities or low income housing. Weak capacity to deal with the growing numbers result in inadequate access to social services such as health care or water/sanitation; as well as overcrowding in schools and health facilities.

During the reporting period the IFRC Country office supported the Mongolia Red Cross Society (MRCS) to implement different projects in the areas of health, social care, and disaster management. The community- based health and first aid (CBHFA) project is being implemented in four provinces in the Gobi Region of Mongolia and is preparing for its expansion into three districts of Ulaanbaatar City. A social care project has continued to address the needs of vulnerable and displaced populations in Uvurkhangai, Khuvsgul, and Tuv provinces. In the disaster management field, three main projects have been implemented. These are Norwegian Red Cross-supported community-based disaster preparedness (CBDP), DFID-funded community-based programming (CBP), national disaster response team (NDRT), and USAID-funded earthquake preparedness project.

The year 2012 has been a parliamentary electoral year whereby 76 parliament seats would be pursued by various candidates from different parties. As a direct result, slight delays have taken place in the implementation of some of the planned activities. It is anticipated that some further delays are likely to arise with the implementation of activities throughout rural areas as October will see provincial-level elections.

Japan – Earthquake and Tsunami - The 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on 11 March 2011 has posed severe loss of lives and humanitarian consequences. As of 8 August 2012, 15,868 people are confirmed dead of which 90 per cent died from drowning in the cold winter waters. A total of 2,848 are still missing or unaccounted for. A total of 17 months had passed since the disaster struck, and while immediate physical recovery is gradually picking up speed, survivors were still in much need of support such as psychosocial and long-term recovery. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant accident has also created much uneasiness among the public, not only in Fukushima but throughout the nation as the evacuation zone is still seriously contaminated and may remain uninhabitable for decades. (Details on recovery operation can be found at JRCS website: http://www.jrc.or.jp/eq-japan2011/operations-update/index.html)

Collaboration within the Movement commenced almost immediately after the catastrophe, and JRCS invited the IFRC to bring in a high level support/liaison mission. From the onset of the disaster, IFRC had provided human resource support in communications, reporting, logistics, finance and other areas through frequent visits from the East Asia Regional Delegation (EARD) and Asia Pacific zone office as well as from the Secretariat in Geneva.

In the past six months, the IFRC EARD focused on national society disaster management, health and care, long-term development in the East Asia region by providing direct support and training opportunities for suitable National Society personnel in building up their capacity. The IFRC EARD also represented the East Asia region at various Asia Pacific meetings to contribute to and coordinate resources and knowledge sharing in Asia Pacific region.

[1] Source: Ministry of Civil Affairs March 13, 2012

[2] Source: Ministry of Civil Affairs 1 July 2012

[3] Source: Ministry of Civil Affairs 25 June, 2012

[4] Source: Xinhua News June 21, 2012

[5] Source: Ministry of Civil Affairs 15th May, 2012

[6] Source : Ministry of Civil Affairs 29 June 2012