Maui News

Red Cross Disaster Relief Approaches $210 Million

June 14, 2011, 8:27 AM HST
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By Wendy Osher

Osaka Red Cross hospital. dERU (domestic Emergency Response Unit) getting ready and being deployed to respond to the massive earthquake and tsunami that hit the Japan in March 2011. Photo: Japanese Red Cross

The American Red Cross made another $46 million donation to the Japanese Red Cross, bringing its contributions to date to nearly $210 million.  The figure includes more than $4.5 million in text donations.

The American Red Cross backing translates to more than half of the Japanese Red Cross’ $350 million aid program. The funds are being used to meet the ongoing emergency and long-term recovery needs of more than 98,000 families living in evacuation centers and temporary housing.

“The funds are being used in areas of high urgency where the relief and recovery package provides practical support to improve life and help people take those first steps towards recovery,” said Tadateru Konoe, president of the Japanese Red Cross. “I offer you my heart-felt gratitude for your concern, encouragement and assistance.”

It has been three months since the devastating earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis that struck Japan’s northeast coastline on March 11, 2011.

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The Red Cross remains focused on helping to improve living conditions for the thousands of people, particularly those in the Miyagi, Fukushima and Iwate prefectures, which sustained the most damage.

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Japanese Red Cross employees and volunteers are providing a range of services for the evacuees.  Plans include the installation of washing machines, water tanks for hand washing, and partitions for privacy.

“The physical and mental health of evacuees is of major concern, particularly where people are facing prolonged stays in centers,” said Alex Mahoney, disaster management expert with the American Red Cross. “Longer-term solutions to find more appropriate accommodation for people who have lost their homes are urgently needed,” said Mahoney.

The Red Cross is also increasing the number of caregivers and psychological support teams working in evacuation centers and nursing homes.  In Ishinomaki, the agency is planning to improve local health services by building and equipping temporary medical facilities.

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To date, the Japanese Red Cross has sent approximately $1 billion to 15 municipalities charged with distributing cash grants to the survivors who have lost their homes, loved ones and livelihoods as a result of the tsunami.

*** Photo courtesy Red Cross Japan and IFRC.

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