Brussels, 29 April 2011
When Japan was overwhelmed by an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear damage, the European Union was among the first to answer the call for assistance. The EU response was not only fast, but also efficient and coherent. Thanks to the quick and seamless coordination between Member States and the European Commission, the EU aid rapidly reached those in need in the prefectures around Fukushima.
In seven shipments, almost 400 tons of in-kind assistance offered by Member States was dispatched to Japan and distributed on the ground thanks to the efforts of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. In addition to in-kind assistance, the EU offered financial support for the total amount of 17,268 million EUR.
Immediate EU response
The European Commission has been monitoring the evolving situation and has been in close contact with the Japanese authorities since the first hours of the emergency. After the first phase of search and rescue, Japanese authorities asked for blankets, mattresses, water tanks and water purification units. Considering the difficult operational environment on the ground, Japan also asked the EU to coordinate its assistance and its delivery to Japanese people to avoid any additional logistical burden for the Central Japanese Government.
By activating its European Civil Protection Mechanism, the EU benefited from the expertise of various MS and the coordinating experience of the Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC)in deploying the requested in-kind assistance.
In total, 19 Participating States in the EU Civil Protection Mechanism offered in-kind or financial assistance to Japan in the disaster's aftermath, including 114,000 blankets; 45,000 jerry-cans and water tanks; 90,000 litres of bottled water; 7800 mattresses; beds and sleeping bags; protective equipment and 50 dose rate meters. In addition, financial assistance was offered by 13 Member States.
Coordination of European aid on the ground
A 15-member EU Civil Protection Assessment and Coordination Team was deployed to Japan to coordinate the distribution of assistance on the ground and to support the Japanese authorities in the assessment of further needs. The team, which included experts from Member States in logistics and radiology, also maintained the liaison with the Japanese authorities and, with the precious support from the EU Delegation, set up the logistics arrangements for the storage, transport and distribution of the assistance within the country.
Seven European shipments of in-kind assistance
The first shipment of 70 tons of aid provided by Denmark, Lithuania and Netherlands arrived in Japan on 25 March. The shipment included blankets, mattresses, sleeping bags and other relief items and was flown in thanks to Lufthansa's offer for a free cargo shipment. Two days later, 180 tons of assistance offered by France started to be distributed in the Sendai Prefecture. The European Commission is going to co-finance part of costs for transporting this aid.
The following two shipments consisted of blankets offered by Denmark and bottled water provided by the United Kingdom. These reached Japan on 28 and 29 March respectively. Lufthansa offered three free flights to transport the assistance.
Food, tents, sleeping bags, clothes, boots and gloves comprised the fifth shipment, which was compiled by Hungary, Slovakia and Sweden and arrived to Japan on 5 April. The flight was provided free of charge by AeroLogic, a joint venture of DHL Express and Lufthansa Cargo.
Bulgaria, Finland, Sweden and Slovakia jointly dispatched in-kind items in the sixth European shipment to Japan. This package included protective equipment, beds, mattresses, blankets and water tanks. It reached Japan on 26 April. UPS provided transport free of charge.
Finally, on April 28 the seventh European shipment of in-kind assistance (provided by Austria) landed in Tokyo. It is currently being distributed in the Ibaraki Prefecture. Part of the transport costs will be co-financed by the European Commission.
Altogether, almost 400 tons of in-kind assistance have has been channelled through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism to Japan and have been distributed to the Fukushima, Ibaraki, Miyagi, Tochigi and Yamagata Prefectures.
Commissioner Georgieva's visit to Japan
Kristalina Georgieva, the European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, was the first high-level international politician to visited Japan after the disaster. She was in Tokyo and Ibaraki, one of the prefectures worst-hit by the tsunami, on 25 and 26 of March. The Commissioner assessed the needs on the ground in coordination with the European civil protection team and the Japanese authorities. She also participated in the hand-over of the first shipment of European aid in an evacuation shelters in Ibaraki.
During her meetings with the Japanese government, Japanese Red Cross and IFRC, the Commissioner reiterated Europe's readiness to provide further help if needed.
Additional 10 million EUR for Japan
On 4 April the European Commission adopted a humanitarian funding decision of €10 million, to help the Japanese population cope with the massive consequences of the earthquake and the tsunami that followed. The funding will help more than 32,000 people, who live in temporary shelters and rely on aid for food, water, blankets and mattresses and other immediate provisions.
The €10 million allocation allows the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to distribute relief items to evacuees and other people in need in Japan, in partnership with the Japanese Red Cross. The European financial aid targets families in the worst-affected provinces of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima.
The EU is adapting its support to the changing needs on the ground. At this stage, the focus of European assistance is shifting from civil protection and in-kind assistance, to financial support the efforts of partners in the Red Cross family.
Overview of European assistance in Japan: http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/georgieva/themes/solidarity_with_japan_en.htm