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Long road to recovery for Japanese disaster survivors


A year after the earthquake and tsunami, Red Cross is playing a key role in the massive recovery program.

Friday March 9, 2012

In Otsuchi, only the foundations remain of many of the houses which were destroyed by the tsunami. Photo: Japanese Red Cross/Asuka Suzuki.

One year after a devastating magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami hit the Tohoku region of north-eastern Japan, Red Cross is playing a key role in the massive rebuilding and recovery program.

Australian Red Cross Head of International Programs, Donna McSkimming, who worked in Japan in the aftermath of the disaster as a special adviser to the relief effort, said while some progress had been made in reconstruction and recovery there was still a long way to go.

"Almost 20 million tonnes of debris has been removed and reconstruction is underway but the process of rebuilding communities and recovering from the psychological trauma of the disaster will be a very difficult journey," said Ms McSkimming.

"The future remains challenging and uncertain for thousands of survivors, especially those who remain displaced by the disaster and subsequent nuclear accident in Fukushima.

"The scale of the devastation in Japan, where an estimated 19,000 people were killed and 300,000 homes where damaged, affected many Australians deeply. We had an excellent response to our Appeal last year with Australians donating more than $27 million to support communities impacted by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. This was the largest Australia Red Cross international Appeal since the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.

"These funds have been used by Japanese Red Cross to support communities affected by the disaster, including purchasing emergency supplies for the evacuation centres and equipment for hospitals and aged care facilities."

More than 350,000 people were housed in evacuation centres following the disaster. Red Cross has supplied cooking and cleaning equipment to people living in temporary accommodation and is using funds donated internationally to support the construction of medical facilities.

"Responding to the devastation in Japan has been a truly global effort. Thanks to the support of our donors, members and volunteers, Australian Red Cross has been able to make a substantial contribution to the recovery effort," said Ms McSkimming.

On the anniversary, Red Cross is providing psychosocial and medical support in the Fukushima Prefect and surrounding areas. Red Cross is also running an indoor playground for children who cannot go outside due to ongoing problems associated with the nuclear power plant.

To support the every day work of Red Cross helping people prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies in Australia and around the world, please donate to Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery.

For more information please contact James Molan on 0448 571 484.

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