Disaster in Japan - 2011

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A severe earthquake struck the north-east coast of Japan on March 11. 2011, causing a major tsunami and serious damage across northern Japan. Oxfam Canada is part of the HUMANITARIAN COALITION in Canada that has launched an appeal for public support.

Oxfam Canada has answered Oxfam Japan's call for public donations for two partner organizations, one that is assisting mothers and babies and the other providing information to non-Japanese speakers living in Japan.

Japan is one of the most advanced nations in the world in dealing with natural disasters and has accepted international help in only a few specific areas. It is important that ad-hoc efforts to help do not undermine the coordination of the state’s overall relief efforts, especially now that explosions at a nuclear facility and radiation levels are complicating efforts to assist those affected from the Mar 11 earthquake and tsunami.

 “The Japanese state has the means to reach 99% of the population but there will always be some who need more specific assistance,” said Oxfam Japan Executive Director, Akiko Mera, from Tokyo.

Ms. Mera said that Oxfam Japan will channel funds to the Japan Organization for International Cooperation on Family Planning (JOICFP). Together with the Japanese Midwives’ Association and local doctors, the groups will help breast-feeding mothers by providing them with privacy and their babies with diapers and other products. They are offering counseling to women under high stress.

Another partner – the multi-language center FACIL – is helping non-Japanese speaking nationals living in affected areas. FACIL was set up as a response to the Kobe earthquake in 1995. It has set up a hotline for people to get information and is translating and re-publishing information put out by local authorities. There are an estimated 40,000 non-Japanese speakers in affected areas.

Most international NGOs like Oxfam are standing-by to assist on the invitation of leading local authorities, and are otherwise providing specialist help as described here.

In 2011, the Humanitarian Coalition launched an appeal for funds to support the relief and recovery in Japan. The Humanitarian Coalition brings together four leading Canadian development agencies in times of crisis to provide the Canadian public with a mechanism for national fundraising and public response that is easy for donors to use, transparent and fully accountable.

Being ready to respond – the Emergency Response Fund
Time is of the essence in an emergency and it is essential that Oxfam be ready to respond quickly and effectively to a humanitarian crisis.

The Oxfam Canada Emergency Response Fund (ERF) enables us to provide timely, appropriate responses to emergency situations and to support reconstruction work that enables people affected by an emergency to get back on their feet and become less vulnerable to disasters in the future. ERF also provides critical funding and enables Oxfam to respond to emergencies that don’t capture the attention of the media and don’t make it to the headlines.

You can help Oxfam Canada provide assistance to people affected by disasters by donating to our Emergency Response Fund.