photo: Kyodo News/AP
By David Colburn
In the midst of growing concern over the disastrous situation in Japan, humanitarian groups have provided assistance to victims as quickly and efficiently as possible. According to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies(IFRC), the Japanese Red Cross called upon its disaster management task force within ten minutes of the initial earthquake.
An assessment exercise immediately began and both staff and volunteers were briskly mobilized. As referenced by the IFRC website, 62 National Disaster Response Teams (NDRT), including over 400 staff members, have been deployed to provide healthcare services and possible psychosocial support to areas affected by the disaster. The IFRC has been monitoring the situation as it continues to develop. The website also confirms that the logistics hub in Kuala Lumpur is prepared to deliver 20,000 non-food items and shelter upon the request of the Japanese Red Cross.
The Japanese Government has opened multiple evacuation centers for shelter and has accepted rescue teams from Australia, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, and the USA thus far. According to the IFRC website, “30,650 blankets have been sent to the affected area for further distribution”. A high-level international support/liaison team has undergone development to assist the Japanese Red Cross in their efforts.
The International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) has worked with the Japanese Red Cross to establish a family link website to “help restore contact between separated family members”. A website to locate US military personnel has also been established by The American Red Cross.
Elsewhere, the Papua New Guinea Red Cross and Fiji Red Cross have collaborated with the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) in the presence of tsunami alerts. As of March 12, 2011, there have only been minor damages reported in Papua New Guinea and no reported casualties or destruction in other areas. Tsunami alerts have ultimately been canceled for many regions outside of Japan.
The family links website can be found at: http://www.familylinks.icrc.org/eng/familylinks-japan
The US military personnel locator website can be found at: www.redcross.org/safeandwell