World/CH: ACT pledges support to Japan

act 320x160 300x150 World/CH: ACT pledges support to Japan

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Geneva, March 16 2011. ACT Alliance general secretary John Nduna has pledged to offer staffing and logistical support to partner organisations in Japan, in parallel with a major financial appeal led by ACT members, to assist with the colossal relief effort needed in the wake of Friday’s devastating earthquake and tsunami.

“ACT is preparing a range of initiatives in order to help meet gaps in emergency provision, ensuring that we do our utmost to help Japanese people in this time of terrible crisis for the whole country”, he said.

ACT member appeal launched today
In the first major appeal for funds launched by an ACT member, Church World Service has requested funds totalling US $2,590,450 (see Appeals section or click here). The money will enable CWS to provide emergency relief support to at least 5,000 families (25,000 people) now living at 100 evacuation sites in the northeastern area of Japan (Miyagi, Fukushima, Iwate, Ibaragi, Tochigi prefectures). Assistance at these sites will include food and other essential items, delivered through a partnership with the Japan Platform, an alliance of humanitarian organisations who have come together to respond to the emergency.

CWS will focus on evacuation sites where the basic needs for food, water, sanitation, electricity and fuel are not being met, as identified and prioritised by the Japan Platform. The need for clean drinking water will be addressed, and blankets are being prioritised to help protect people from the cold – an increasingly dire reality as fuel and gas supplies run out. In order to maintain radio contact at evacuation sites, batteries will be supplied, enabling survivors to receive vital news, especially on nuclear radiation-related developments. Gas and fuel supplies will also be sent to evacuation sites.

As Takeshi Komino, Head of Emergencies for CWS in the Asia/Pacific region, states, “The situation in Japan is getting worse and worse. Explosions at nuclear plants in Fukushima are posing the threat of radiation to anybody within a 20 km radius area of the nuclear plants, and the number of people at evacuation sites now exceeds 460,000”.

There are numerous reports of a shortage of food, water, fuel, blankets, electricity, sanitation equipments and facilities, and CWS has received anecdotal reports of isolated communities not having anything at eat for days. Some people have started to evacuate even from Tokyo in fear of radiation escalating to dangerous levels.

Although Japan is considered one of the most developed countries in the world, the unimaginable magnitude of the damage will place extraordinary pressures on every relief and humanitarian service in the country. CWS hopes to relieve some of that pressure and alleviate people’s suffering with funds raised through the appeal it has issued today.

The appeal is led by CWS rather than being coordinated through the ACT secretariat, since ACT’s constitution pledges it to prioritise developing rather than developed countries in its allocation of jointly-raised funds. Nevertheless, it is a response by ACT Alliance members and will be run and managed according to the standards and guidelines adhered to in conventional ACT appeals, following all ACT policies and upholding ACT’s usual high standards of financial and humanitarian accountability.

Komino, who will be joining existing staff in Tokyo from Saturday 19th March, asks for all the support people are able to give, and may be contacted using the details below. “It may be a long road ahead for rehabilitation”, he says, “but we would truly value people’s help in giving whatever they can to support this appeal”. Norwegian Church Aid has today pledged the sum of NOK 250,000 towards the appeal.

Team of ACT experts readied
Meanwhile, further to discussions this morning between ACT general secretary John Nduna and the acting general secretary of the National Christian Council in Japan, Hiroko Ueda, ACT Alliance is on standby to provide the organisation with a team of experts experienced in responding to complex emergencies.

Ueda said that the NCCJ has received abundant support from churches across the world, and plentiful commitments from congregations globally to fund relief projects, but she pointed out that the situation is currently overwhelming and that it will take several weeks to assess exactly what has happened and what is needed.

In the meantime, NCCJ is providing emergency relief to people in its immediate environs. It has not so far mounted a systematic response but may do so shortly. The ACT Alliance secretariat in Geneva, working with member organisations, is identifying a range of people from its Rapid Support Team roster who have the necessary logistical, technical, humanitarian and linguistic skills that might be needed, should NCCJ call upon ACT’s help in the next few weeks.

Lutheran churches coordinate

In other developments, ACT member the Lutheran World Federation is coordinating closely with Lutheran churches in Japan. The Japan Lutheran Church and the Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church are responding to the crisis in coordination with other churches, and have both issued appeals for funds to help people in need. Roland Kilian Schlott of LWF (contact details below) is dealing with enquiries and pledges of support in relation to the appeals on the two churches’ behalf.

Takeshi Komino, Head of Emergencies, CWS Asia/Pacific: or
+66 849 109 563.

Roland Kilian Schlott, Programme Officer for Asia and Humanitarian Affairs, LWF: or on +41 22 791 61 59 or +41 79 200 04 30.