Fukushima: Five years on

Humanitarian crises are not often associated with developed countries. However, nature does not discriminate between developed and developing countries. The Great East Japan earthquake, which struck Fukushima on 11 March 2011, is proof that even in a disaster-prepared country such as Japan, nature can still cause massive destruction and threaten people’s lives and dignity.

The devastating earthquake and tsunami triggered an “unthinkable” disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The disaster happened 25 years after the 1986 nuclear accident in Chernobyl, Ukraine. Half a decade later, over 100,000 people are still displaced from their homes, living in temporary housing as the decontamination efforts continue.

It is clear that the global humanitarian community remains ill-equipped to address the potentially long-lasting needs of people at risk from complex and emerging threats associated with so-called technological hazards. This remains a pressing, if often unaddressed, issue. As urbanization and industrialization increase, so do the risks associated with technological hazards. Other factors, such as extreme weather events associated with climate change, are also bringing increasingly unpredictable risks to technological infrastructure. Fukushima and Chernobyl show that the international community must be better prepared for future disasters and emerging threats.

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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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