Responding To Emergencies



Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Update


In the wake of the devastating Earthquake & Tsunami that hit Japan on March 11th 2011, Save the Children has sent emergency response teams to assess the needs of children and their families in the worst affected tsunami areas between Miyagi Prefecature and Tokyo in Japan.

We have mobilised our global resources and an international emergency team - including staff from all over. Our staff is currently on the ground now to assist our staff in Japan. Save the Children has been in Japan for 25 years. We have vast experience in responding to disasters in Asia and worldwide - including our response to the epic 2004 tsunami in Asia.

“We are extremely concerned for children in tsunami-affected areas that are at risk because of a triple whammy of life-threatening incidents including an earthquake, tsunami and now an incident at a nuclear reactor,” Stephen McDonald, Save the Children’s team leader in Japan said.

The Save the Children teams will be within 80 miles of the nuclear reactor at Fukushima where there has been an explosion. In the area around the reactor, the authorities have set up a 12 mile radius exclusion zone, and have reported that up 170,000 people have been evacuated.

Evacuations centers are being established in the area and along the tsunami-affected coast to accommodate people, and it will be important that children’s needs are met while parents register for help and assistance from authorities.

“We’re looking to set up child-friendly spaces in the worst affected areas. These spaces provide children with an opportunity to play safely with other children while freeing up their parents to work on the recovery,” added McDonald.

Donate now to the Japan Earthquake Tsunami Children in Emergency Fund to support Save the Children's relief efforts and responses to children's ongoing and urgent needs.


Children Displaced by Japan Earthquake Face Shortages of Essential Goods, Save the Children Warns; Nuclear Fears Deepen in Evacuation Centers


SENDAI, Japan (March 17, 2011) — As relief efforts in Japan continue to be hampered by the ongoing nuclear crisis, shortages of essential goods, including food, water, cooking fuel and clothing could put thousands of children displaced by last week’s devastating earthquake at risk.


Stephen McDonald, Save the Children’s team leader in Sendai, said: “We are seeing children living in extremely difficult circumstances as a result of the earthquake and its associated problems. Fuel is in short supply, making it difficult to move goods around the country, and we fear there are still communities where basic items are not getting through.”


On Wednesday, Save the Children carried out an exploratory mission to Ishinomaki, Nobiru and Onagawa north of Sendai and found children living in desperate conditions.


“We travelled for ten hours in snow, sleet, rain and sludge,” said Ian Woolverton, who led the mission. “There were some terrible scenes. In some places like Onagawa, there was nothing left. In other places like Ishinomaki, we found children in evacuation centers huddled around kerosene lamps.”


In Tokyo, lines have developed outside fuel stations where a 2.5 gallon limit per person has been introduced. The fuel shortages are being compounded by the ongoing uncertainty over safety at the Fukushima nuclear power station, where several explosions have occurred, sending radioactive material into the atmosphere.


McDonald said: “The situation in Fukushima is certainly having an impact on relief efforts further north. The evacuation around the plant has created a new wave of displaced people, and concerns over safety are making it difficult to deploy staff to the affected area.”


Save the Children has spoken to children displaced by the earthquake who are terrified of what might happen if the situation at Fukushima deteriorates.


At an evacuation center not far from Sendai, 8-year-old Kazuki Seto told staff: “We are really worried about the nuclear power plants. We are very afraid of nuclear radiation. That's why we don't play outside."


Yasu Hiro, 10, said: “We know about the bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and we are very scared. It makes us really worry. If it explodes it is going to be a tremendous ordeal."


Save the Children teams are in Sendai to help children affected by the earthquake and tsunami, and are in the process of setting up child-friendly spaces.


These are protective play areas that help relieve the anxiety faced by children and allow them to spend time with other children and play while being supervised by responsible adults.


The play areas also give parents much needed time that they can dedicate to finding food sources, work, accommodation and locating other friends and family.

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Latest from the field : On the ground - Read the Blog of Ian Woolverton from Save the Children in Japan.


Watch our interactive slideshow and meet brave boys & girls living in disaster evacuation shelters.


Japan Disasters: In-depth Crisis Report and Recovery Plan: Our comprehensive report details the crisis and its impact on children. It outlines our relief efforts and long-term recovery plans to restore education and child care in communities ravaged by the disasters. Download this exclusive executive briefing document.