Los Angeles, Calif. – One year after a 9.0-earthquake struck Japan, triggering a devastating tsunami and subsequent radiation crisis, International Medical Corps is expanding its network of local partners to deliver critical health, mental health and livelihoods services to affected communities.
To mark the one-year anniversary, International Medical Corps along with local partner The People, and the Iwaki Municipality hosted a memorial event in Iwake City in Fukushima Prefecture. Including dance performances and prayers, the event brought community members together to mourn the losses of those who were affected by the earthquake and tsunami and also those affected by the ongoing nuclear accident.
“Although the initial emergency period has abated and much has been done for the affected people of Japan, many are still struggling to recover – thousands have lost all of their belongings and are still unable to return to their homes or jobs,” says Yumi Terahata, International Medical Corps Country Representative in Japan. “What’s more, countless survivors are suffering long-term emotional consequences. International Medical Corps is committed to working with local partners to address the long-term needs of the Japanese people through distributing critical supplies, mental health outreach, livelihoods programs and community spaces for evacuees.”
An International Medical Corps emergency response team was on-the-ground within 48 hours of the disaster, assessing needs and coordinating with the Japanese government. While Japan has significant disaster response capacity, the magnitude of the tragedy compelled the organization to respond. In the 12 months since the disaster, International Medical Corps has:
• Reached 20,000 people at evacuation centers with medications, food and basic supplies.
• Trained 85 counselors and 93 frontline workers in Psychological First Aid (PFA) in partnership with accredited nonprofit Tokyo English Life Line (TELL).
• Hosted a psychosocial conference in partnership with Tohoku University and TELL aimed at enhancing the PFA knowledge and skills of Japanese mental health professionals.
• Partnered with Association for Aid and Relief Japan (AAR) to distribute household items like heaters and cooking supplies for 300 evacuee families struggling to rebuild in new surroundings.
• Partnered with local organization, Shapla Neer, to create a community space for evacuees living in temporary housing where they can interact with peers, seek counseling, and receive information on assistance programs.
• Partnered with International Volunteer Center of Yamagata (IVY) to provide cash-for-work opportunities in Miyagi Prefecture, where 16,000 people were killed and another 40,000 displaced as a result of the tsunami. The jobs focus on reconstruction activities, such as mud and debris cleaning, which will help many people return to their homes.
International Medical Corps is also expanding its partnership to establish community spaces for evacuees with The People. Together, the two organizations are providing evacuees with a space to interact with others affected by the disaster and receive counseling and referrals for appropriate services.
International Medical Corps is also working with the Salvation Army Japan, CARITAS Japan, and Kojima Co., Ltd., a Japanese home electronics retailer, to support a winter distribution of heaters, portable stoves, and other essential household items to vulnerable families that have evacuated from Fukushima.
International Medical Corps will continue to develop programs with local partners to address ongoing humanitarian needs and support communities in becoming more resilient.