CWS Expedites Relief to Thousands in Neglected Coastal Cities

A stranded boat, grounded after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The Church of the Brethren Disaster Ministries is supporting relief work in Japan through its partnership with Church World Service (CWS). Photo by CWS/Takeshi Komino

Tokyo, Japan – Tuesday March 29, 2011 – Nearly three weeks after the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that devastated the northeastern coast of Japan, humanitarian organization Church World Service reports that the country’s domestic resources alone aren’t sufficient to deal with the disaster, and there are still thousands who haven’t yet received assistance.

From Tokyo, Takeshi Komino, CWS Asia/Pacific’s head of emergencies, is coordinating CWS efforts in Japan. Over the weekend, Komino reported that “It is evident that even a very developed country like Japan is not able to cope with its domestic resources only,” due to the magnitude of four nearly simultaneous disasters – a 9.0 earthquake, tsunami, nuclear threat, and freezing winter weather in affected areas. . .

Church World Service now is working with local partners in Japan to coordinate emergency relief for about 25,000 individuals sheltered at 100 evacuation sites in Miyagi, Fukushima, Iwate, Ibaragi and Tochigi Prefectures.

CWS’s Komino reports that needs are changing rapidly, even as the government copes with the triple challenge of working to restore safety at the damaged nuclear plant, building temporary shelters, and dealing with the half million people living at evacuation sites or visiting daily because they have no resources at home.

Komino credits the government for working hard to meet these challenges, but points out, that the government simply does not “have the human resources to serve the most vulnerable, including people who can’t even go to these evacuation sites.”

That is where local Japanese partner agencies have a distinct advantage, being “stationed in the field and working with the affected population on a daily basis,” he said. Those local agencies will play a key role in finding and filling people’s changing needs, Komino said, “much more precisely and faster … and will enable CWS to target the most vulnerable, including those unable to go to evacuation sites.”

— Excerpt from a news update provided by Lesley Crosson, Church World Service,, (212) 870-267


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