Two years on, Red Cross brings positive change for thousands of survivors of Japan’s triple disaster

March 11th, Tokyo / Geneva: Two years on from the Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami, thousands of survivors have benefited from a variety of programmes carried out by the Japanese Red Cross which range from caring for the psychosocial needs of the elderly to the reconstruction of major hospitals.

In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, Japanese Red Cross medical teams deployed from their network of hospitals across the country, treated nearly 90,000 people. Since then, much of the focus for the Red Cross has been on providing welfare services; this includes help for 135,000 displaced families resettled into temporary homes that were provided with a package of household electrical appliances.

Significant investment has also been made in re-building damaged health infrastructure and building temporary medical facilities. Five hospitals and medical centers have now been constructed with Red Cross support. Over 300 vehicles have been donated to support transportation needs in 200 social welfare institutions and nearly 1,000 special beds have been provided for care homes for the elderly.

“Thanks to the generous support both from the Japanese public and our friends abroad, a lot of progress has been made to restore and improve public services and facilities and help people to recover from this disaster”, says Tadateru Konoe, president of the Japanese Red Cross and the IFRC. “By early 2013, more than 75% of the funds we received had been spent or committed on specific programmes that benefit survivors of the disaster. But the task of rebuilding entire communities is immense and complex. More than 300,000 people are still living in temporary accommodation and the Red Cross has a clear role to play in supporting these communities in the months ahead”.

Japanese Red Cross staff and volunteers have been providing a variety of services which are helping to meet the psychosocial needs of survivors in the worst affected prefectures of Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima. These include social activities and physical exercise sessions for the elderly as well as recreational activities designed for children such as summer camps organised for thousands of school children from disaster stricken areas.

In Fukushima, Red Cross nurses are also providing health monitoring and psychological support to displaced families in some of the areas close to the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The Red Cross has been active in monitoring the potential health impacts of the radiation. More than 100 scanners have been donated to check the levels of radioactivity in food and water and from next year the Red Cross will be involved in screening youngsters under 18 years of age for thyroid abnormalities.

For further information and to set up interviews contact:

In Tokyo

Sayaka Matsumoto, public relations officer, Japanese Red Cross Society Mobile: + 81 90 7820 2173 – E-mail: s-matsumoto@jrc.or.jp

In Beijing

Francis Markus, communications manager, East Asia, IFRC Mobile: +86 139 100 96892 – E-mail: francis.markus@ifrc.org

In Kuala Lumpur: Patrick Fuller, communications manager Asia Pacific, IFRC. Mobile: +60 122 308 451 E-mail patrick.fuller@ifrc.org

In Geneva:

Pierre Kremer, Head communication department, IFRC Mobile: +41 79 226 48 32 pierre.kremer@ifrc.org

For further information and audio-visual materials on Red Cross activities in Japan, please visit: www.jrc.or.jp or www.ifrc.org/japan

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world’s largest volunteer-based humanitarian network, reaching 150 mil­lion people each year through its 187 member National Societies. Together, the IFRC acts before, during and after disasters and health emergencies to meet the needs and improve the lives of vulnerable people. It does so with impartiality as to nationality, race, gender, religious beliefs, class and political opinions. For more information, please visit www.ifrc.org. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.