Baltimore, MD, March 28, 2011
With financial support from an emergency grant of $25,000 from the National Greek Orthodox Ladies Philoptochos Society and contributions by private donors, International Orthodox Christian Charities [IOCC] will provide humanitarian assistance such as medicines, food and other essential items to communities in the earthquake and tsunami-damaged Pacific coastal districts of Japan in the prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima and Ibaragi. The assistance is being distributed by the Orthodox Church in Japan in cooperation with regional authorities. All of the aid to be distributed is expected to be obtained locally in Japan.
Initial efforts by IOCC and the Orthodox Church in Japan will focus on an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 people who have been displaced from coastal communities by the earthquake and tsunami. The Church is also working to assess the needs of people displaced from the cities of Ishinomaki, Yamada and Kesennuma that remain largely inaccessible because of the damage and lack of fuel.
As the search and rescue operations wind down and recovery efforts begin, the full extent of the needs in coastal communities of East Japan are beginning to emerge.
"It is definitely true that the suffering and hardship of the victims in these ruined areas is indescribably serious and severe now," wrote Father Demitrios Tanaka of the Orthodox Church in Japan. "But the aftershocks of this complex disaster will remain upon us for a long time. We anticipate that the really critical situation will turn up two or three months from now."
The Orthodox Church in Japan anticipates that additional assistance will also be required to aid people threatened by the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.
As the Orthodox Church in Japan focused its efforts on providing assistance to people in need, it also found reason to give thanks. An Orthodox priest previously reported missing in Tohoku, Japan was found alive and safe with his wife. All of the Orthodox clergy from the East Japan Diocese of the Orthodox Church have now been accounted for and are safe.
IOCC, established in the early 1990s as the official humanitarian aid agency of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas, is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of churches and agencies engaged in development, humanitarian assistance and advocacy.
Visit IOCC's web site at www.iocc.org for additional information and to make donations.