Japan Relief Advances
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) hailed the opening today of an ecumenical disaster response office in
With the launching of the office, NCC-JEDRO (National Christian Council – Japan Ecumenical Disaster Response Office), the churches can engage systematically in relief and recovery work and deepen their accompaniment of survivors of the 9.0-magnitude earthquake, tsunamis, and ongoing nuclear threat.
The office is the product of the National Christian Council Japan (NCCJ) Consortium for Tohoku Disaster Relief, an ecumenical coordinating body created by the NCCJ at the urging of national and international colleagues who made the recommendation during a Solidarity Meeting in
“We shall do our best to meet this enormous challenge,” NCCJ moderator and acting general secretary, the Rev. Isamu Koshiishi, wrote this week in a follow-up letter to meeting participants. “We know, as you do, that it will not be easy. The disaster response will require tenacity, skill, and competence,” he stated.
UMCOR International Disaster Response executive, Melissa Crutchfield, who was present at the meeting, affirmed UMCOR’s “commitment to working with and supporting Japan’s churches and other local partners as they develop and organize their relief efforts.”
The “foundation of partnership and cooperation” asserted during the meeting and made pragmatic in the formation of the consortium, she said, “will help us coordinate better for more timely and effective implementation of relief and longer-term recovery activities on the ground in
Representatives from 40 Christian partner organizations of the NCCJ participated in the May meeting, including some who are now part of NCC-JEDRO and the consortium. These include United Church of Christ in
In addition to the coordination of relief efforts, Crutchfield said, meeting participants also discussed “ways to present a united front on advocacy issues related to the government’s use of nuclear power and their responsibility in providing for the most vulnerable populations after disasters.”
Finally, she said, “we identified ways to strengthen the capacity of our Japanese partners for responding to emergencies in their own backyard through sharing technical, human, and financial resources.”
Crutchfield and UMCOR head, the Rev. Cynthia Fierro Harvey, will travel to
“It’s important for us to have a personal connection with our partners and to see firsthand the needs the communities are experiencing in the wake of so devastating a disaster,” Harvey said. “We want to affirm our solidarity with the people of
The UMCOR executives will visit some of the sites where communities were hardest hit by the disaster in the Tohoku Region on
Damages are estimated at $305 billion, making this the costliest disaster on record. More than 72,550 buildings were completely destroyed, washed away, or burned to the ground.
UMCOR has so far disbursed $240,000 to partner organizations, including two new emergency grants that were released last week.
One of the grants provides food packages for 180 Japanese families in Iwate prefecture. The other supports efforts of the
Personnel from the
In his letter to the May meeting participants, Rev. Koshiishi expressed gratitude for the solidarity received in the wake of the triple disaster in
Your gift to Japan Emergency, UMCOR Advance #3021317, helps the people of
To support UMCOR’s work where it is needed most around the world, please give to UMCOR Undesignated, UMCOR Advance #999895.
*Linda Unger is staff editor and senior writer for UMCOR.