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A Response of Global Unity to the Crisis in Japan

by Kaitlin Travers | Marist College

F Posted in: News and Politics P Posted on: March 14, 2011
tsunami Image courtesy of Flickr, user jfjewelry.

This past Friday morning, news reports poured in concerning the massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami affecting Japan. As the weekend has progressed, the devastation has continued to make headlines with a budding nuclear disaster, thousands of citizens missing, and the death toll rising as more and more bodies are uncovered from the rubble.  Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan told the press that “the current situation of the earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear plants is in a way the most severe crisis in the past 65 years since World War II”.

The death toll currently ranges from 1,300 to 1,700, and with tens of thousands missing from coastal cities, the number of lives lost could rise to be 20,000. Thousands of people have been displaced from their homes, relying on charity for shelter and food.  The crisis has caused a multitude of countries to mobilize both aid supplies and search and rescue workers to send to the afflicted nation, including the US, Britain, France, Germany,  Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Singapore, and South Korea. According to OCHA spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs, “more than 68 teams from more than 45 countries,” are ready to join the relief effort. In addition, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stated that the United Nations “will do anything and everything we can at this very difficult time.”

President Obama has pledged to “stand with” the Japanese through this difficult time, and has marshaled efforts to send aid as quickly and efficiently as possible.   According to TIME magazine, a 144-member rescue team with 12 dogs trained to uncover those trapped under the rubble has arrived in Japan, as well as helicopters and destroyers, including the aircraft carrier “Ronald Reagan,” which has the capability to serve as a hospital, heli-port, and  can also convert salt-water to safe drinking water.

USAID spokesman Lars Anderson told ABC News that “A USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team is assembling to go to Japan, with their team leader already en route”  and the “USAID has stood up a Response Management Team in its Washington, D.C. headquarters to oversee logistics of a U.S. response.” In addition, a Defense Department official told ABC News that the “U.S. Pacific Command is sending some P-3 Orion maritime surveillance aircraft to support the Japanese government by providing aerial reconnaissance over quake-damaged areas.”

Both Naoto Kan and President Obama have reiterated the importance of a united response to this tragedy. Kan  “strongly believes” that the people of Japan will “get over this great earthquake and tsunami by joining together.”  Obama shared his thoughts, stating, “when you see what’s happening in Japan you are reminded that for all our differences in culture or language or religion, that ultimately humanity is one.”

This notion of charity, compassion, and humanity have triumphed as a result of this tragedy, with nations and people putting differences aside and coming together to support the people of Japan.  With the future of Japan and the ruin of the disaster still unknown and deepening as the days continue, as citizens of the world, we can all do our part to offer support to those affected.

Wondering how YOU can help the people of Japan?  According to the New York Times, aid organizations accepting donations for the victims in Japan include, but are not limited to:

Red Cross officials say donors can text REDCROSS to 90999 and a $10 donation will automatically be charged to the donor’s phone bill, or donations can be made directly on its Web site.

Information is available on the organization’s Web site.

CARE is one of the world’s largest private international humanitarian organizations. Their offices in Asia are on high alert and have ensured that staff are informed of the tsunami warnings and other related developments.

Information is available on the organization’s Web site.

GlobalGiving is working with International Medical Corps, Save the Children, and other organizations on the ground to disburse funds to organizations providing relief and emergency services to victims of the earthquake and tsunami. Donors can text JAPAN to 50555 to give $10, and larger increments can be submitted on GlobalGiving’s Web site.

Information is available on the organization’s Web site.

Information is available on the organization’s Web site.

The Salvation Army has been providing food and shelter to Tokyo commuters who were stranded when public transportation was interrupted by the earthquake. They are to send a team to Sendai, a city about 250 miles from Tokyo, to assess the situation there. Text JAPAN or QUAKE to 80888 to make a $10 donation. (Make sure to respond “YES” to the Thank You message you receive.) Donations can also be made on the organization’s Web site or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY.

To make a donation, visit Save the Children’s Web site, call 1-800-728-3843, or text JAPAN to 20222 to donate $10.

Shelterbox.org is a disaster-relief organization that focuses on providing survival materials such as tents and cooking equipment to families displaced by disasters.

Information is available on the organization’s Web site or by calling (212) 836-1486.

Kaitlin Travers Kaitlin Travers is the Global Correspondent for NGJ. Kaitlin is studying political science at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY, where she is a Resident Assistant and Admissions Office Ambassador. Follow her on twitter at http://twitter.com/kaitlintravs.

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