The earthquakes in Kumamoto, Japan between April 14 and 16 have devastated many lives, and the number of evacuees now exceeds 200,000. The death toll has increased to 47, and 1,063 are reported to be injured. More than 2,000 houses have been collapsed or badly damaged. Infrastructure has been cut in most areas, and the difficulty in logistics to deliver the relief items are hampered by the road blockages in many parts of the city.
More than 600 aftershocks have now been observed, and the seismic intensity is also felt in adjacent prefecture in Ooita. In Kumamoto city alone, it is reported that 35,000 people are in need to special assistance, but only a few among this number has made their way to evacuation centers. Normally, it is difficult for them to live in crowded evacuation centers where special assistance cannot be given. It is reported that more than 20,000 people (as far as we know) are living outside of official evacuation centers, and assistance is not reaching to these affected communities. A death among such community has been reported, and assistance to these communities is also an utmost priority.
CWS Japan is channeling its assistance through YMCA Japan, a long standing partner for protection of Fukushima children from radiation threats, has its Kumamoto YMCA branch, and it is currently running one of the evacuation centers in Mashiki-town in Kumamoto, where over 1,200 affected people now reside. CWS Japan’s partner Peace Boat Disaster Relief Volunteer Center (PBV) has started its emergency assistance to evacuation centers through provision of life saving food, water, and non-food items, as well as provision of hot meals next to the evacuation centers.
On April 17th, CWS Japan issued its first humanitarian emergency appeal. We are grateful for kind offers and words of support we receive so far, in solidarity. CWS Japan is proactively coordinating with ecumenical partners in Japan, sharing each other’s information, response plans, and resources, as necessary and as possible.