We’ve received an incredible amount of support from the public following the devastating earthquake in Japan and ensuing Pacific tsunami last Friday. As always, we are grateful for your support and will channel your donations in a way that is both responsible and effective in meeting the survivors’ humanitarian needs.
We’ve also noticed that there is some confusion about how the American Red Cross works to provide aid in a situation like this. Below is an explanation that should help clarify.
Officials from the Japanese Red Cross have indicated they would be grateful for donations from the American Red Cross to support their earthquake and tsunami response. The American Red Cross also aided the Japanese during the Kobe earthquake in 1995, and they, in turn, sent us help during 9-11 and Katrina.
We’ve established a designation for Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami relief. This designation targets relief not only in Japan, but in many other locations that were affected by the Pacific tsunami, including Hawaii and parts of the US West Coast.
As many of you may know, the American Red Cross is a member of the world’s largest humanitarian network, comprising the International Committee of the Red Cross and 186 national societies. In this case, the Japanese Red Cross is a strong national society; in fact, they dispatched 95 response teams within the first 48 hours after the quakes hit.
In order to respect the independence of each country’s national society, the American Red Cross only responds to a disaster overseas with the permission of the Red Cross or Red Crescent national society in the affected country. When a Red Cross in another country reaches out for international assistance following a disaster, we can respond by deploying skilled people, mobilizing relief supplies or providing financial assistance. The American Red Cross has a cadre of emergency response workers, who are specially trained in international emergency operations.
At the request of the Japanese Red Cross, we dispatched a disaster management expert from Washington, DC to Japan for a week-long mission yesterday. She will serve on a seven person international team focused on providing high level support and advice to the Japanese Red Cross.
We may provide cash for the rapid purchase of the most needed supplies. If supplies are not available in the affected country, we can release stocks of disaster relief items from our warehouses stationed around the world.
Our support will continue as the full impact of the earthquake and resulting tsunami becomes more clear. We will continue to work with the Japanese Red Cross and provide assistance as determined through this partnership. Our assistance is made possible by the generous contributions from our donors.