Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mercy Corps takes a look at the destruction in Japan

The humanitarian aid charity Mercy Corps is beginning to move into Japan to provide emergency help. The Mercy Corps Blog has posted an interview with their Global Emergency Operations director Randy Martin on what he saw in Japan. In the interview, Martin makes a good point on why some donations are still needed for such a rich country as Japan. The country's government and Red Cross might still have plenty of resources at their disposal, but some local governments and emergency units were completely washed away by the tsunami.

Randy has been a first responder in many disasters over the last decade. And still after witnessing the damage in northern Japan, he remarked: "Every emergency is so remarkably different than all others." Responding in Japan is "a thoroughly unique context and challenge."

Though Japan has substantial economic and governmental capacity to respond to disaster, he emphasized that much of that ability has been undermined at the community level, where it's needed most.

"The normal responders to emergencies have themselves been devastated," he said. "Fire and police departments washed away, hospitals are overwhelmed with patients and also grappling with electric and water failures, and schools are taken over by the displaced."

Randy also notes, "Many of the responders themselves have lost their lives or are grieving the lost of loved ones. So the very institutions that are designed to respond are dramatically challenged to do so."

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