CWS situation report - March 15: Japan earthquake and tsunami

Japan is dealing with multiple crises, including the increased threat of radiation exposure from several nuclear power plants. CWS plans to support response efforts by the Japan Platform, a coalition of 32 non-governmental organizations, government service agencies and media outlets, with CWS providing support and channeling contributions to individual members of the Japan Platform.

SITUATION:

Japan is dealing with multiple crises, including the increased threat of radiation exposure from several nuclear power plants.  The official death toll from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami has risen to 2,722 people and is expected to continue to increase.

Some 400,000 people are now living in makeshift shelters or evacuation centers, the New York Times reported, and compounding the problem is windy and bitterly cold weather, as well as shortages of water, food and fuel.  But the chief concern remains radiation, as a third nuclear reactor blast occurred today.

RESPONSE:

CWS plans to support response efforts by the Japan Platform, a coalition of 32 non-governmental organizations, government service agencies and media outlets, with CWS providing support and channeling contributions to individual members of the Japan Platform.  CWS plans to issue an appeal outlining the specifics of the response later this week.

Church World Service is also prepared to support, if needed, efforts of faith-based partners in Japan, including the National Christian Council of Japan and the United Church of Christ in Japan.

In addition, CWS-member denominations report the following responses in Japan:

  • United Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples): Primary partner in Japan is the United Church of Christ in Japan, which has received a small grant from the U.S. denominations.  The UCCJ has established a relief planning committee which is responsible for initial actions, including investigation, consolation visits and planning and dispatched to the Tohoku and Ou districts.  UCCJ has also provided a status update on their churches, many of which were damaged or destroyed.  UCC/DOC also have a number of mission personnel in Japan teaching ESL or working with local churches.
  • The United Methodist Church has numerous mission personnel in Japan, one of whom is working with National Christian Council of Japan.  There are a number of Methodist churches in Japan.  United Methodist Committee on Relief has set up a Pacific Emergency UMCOR Advance Account for those who wish to support this response.  The United Methodist response to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan will be closely coordinated with churches and church-related agencies.
  • PC (USA) has nine mission personnel in Japan.  The denomination and Presbyterian Disaster Assistance are currently determining the focal areas of support, with some perhaps to help local churches and some to support broader humanitarian efforts.  PC(USA) has numerous church partners and contacts within Japan and is assessing the impact of the disasters on those partners and their consequent needs.  PC(USA) and PDA are likely to support those partners in their response to the disaster.
  • The American Baptist Church USA is related to the Japan Baptist Union and has numerous mission personnel in Japan.  ABC also has a relationship with an independent school in Sendai, which previously was connected to the Baptist Union.  ABC has an initial support grant of $20,000 to the Japan Baptist Union and anticipate a larger proposal for support in coming days/weeks.
  • The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has a companion relationship with the Japan ELC which also has a social service arm.  The ELCA has 22 mission personnel in Japan and numerous churches and has sent some initial funding support to JELC which will be used to provide some immediate food and water assistance to communities/displaced persons.

HOW TO HELP:  Contributions to support CWS emergency response efforts may be made online, sent to your denomination, or to Church World Service, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515.

Church World Service is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of churches and agencies engaged in development, humanitarian assistance and advocacy.

Media Contact:
Lesley Crosson, 212-870-2676, lcrosson@churchworldservice.org
Jan Dragin, 781-925-1526, jdragin@gis.net


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