Money to equip temporary shelters for survivors and other emergency relief and recovery needs
WASHINGTON, April 11, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Red Cross today announced plans to make an additional commitment of $40 million dollars to the Japanese Red Cross, which would bring its total contributions to $100 million. As funds currently pledged to the American Red Cross are received, additional contributions to the Japanese Red Cross will be made.
The announcement was made one month after a 9.0 earthquake and tsunami struck northern Japan, devastating communities, uprooting families and resulting in an ongoing crisis with damaged nuclear power plant facilities.
"The American public has responded quickly and generously to help the survivors of these tragedies, providing almost $158 million in donations and pledges to the American Red Cross for the Japan earthquake and tsunami response," said David Meltzer, senior vice president of international services at the American Red Cross. "We will continue to transfer funds as they come in to our counterparts in Japan for continuing relief activities as well as early recovery programs.
The American Red Cross has already sent contributions of $60 million to the Japanese Red Cross for the earthquake and tsunami response. An additional $500,000 has been provided to the UN World Food Programme for the delivery and storage of relief items.
The Japanese Red Cross has begun to equip the first batch of 70,000 temporary homes, in the three worst affected prefectures, with a package of essential appliances. The appliances – worth an estimated $160 million that will help over 280,000 people – are part of Red Cross efforts to help survivors get back on their feet after the March 11th disasters.
The first 36 of these Japanese government-built prefabricated homes were handed over to residents in Iwate prefecture last Friday afternoon.
The Japanese Red Cross is supplying each home with a refrigerator, washing machine, rice cooker, microwave, television and hot water dispenser. The project is being funded by cash contributions from the American Red Cross and others in the global Red Cross network.
In addition, the Japanese Red Cross this week will transfer approximately $800 million to the committee responsible for handing out cash grants to survivors. These grants will range from $2,800 to $4,100 per family depending upon the extent of the loss they suffered. The Japanese Red Cross expects grants to be distributed directly by local municipalities beginning later this month. There will likely be future cash grants in coming months.
More than 154,000 people are still displaced by the disaster with the majority staying in over 2,200 evacuation centers spread across 17 prefectures, including the three worst-affected prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima. While electricity and water service are being restored and some survivors are returning to their homes, the evacuation centers are likely to stay open for months to come.
The Japanese Red Cross is making efforts to improve the living conditions in these centers – such as creating family spaces and more privacy with partitioning.
In coming weeks, the Japanese Red Cross will continue to place greater emphasis on early recovery. Up until this point, its major focus has been on emergency healthcare and relief distribution.
Hundreds of medical teams have been operating in Red Cross hospitals, in evacuation center clinics and out of mobile units that bring medical care to both smaller and more remote communities, as well as to the general public which has been unable to access such services due to the disruption of state services. Lonely and housebound elderly people, in particular, are being targeted in these often life-saving missions.
The Japanese Red Cross nationwide network has mobilized 579 teams from 92 hospitals in the response during the past month, and an additional 163 teams, including about 3,000 staff members, are being prepared for deployment.
The psychological toll on those who survived the disaster is presenting major challenges and the Japanese Red Cross continues to step up its efforts to provide psychological counseling. A psychological support center was established in the Ishinomaki Red Cross hospital five days after the disaster to support grieving families. Last week, on April 4th, a second center was established at the Iwate Red Cross branch in Morioka.
A psychological counselor has been assigned to almost all deployed medical teams, and their numbers are now going to be increased, particularly in the evacuation centers. In addition, six specialist psychological support teams, each consisting of six people, have also been deployed.
As part of the Red Cross relief operation, more than 125,000 blankets, 183,000 items of clothing, 26,000 emergency relief kits and 11,000 sleeping kits have been handed out to survivors staying in Red Cross evacuation centers.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.