JACL and Direct Relief Provide $400,000 for Emergency Humanitarian Efforts

Funds to the Association for Aid and Relief Japan will assist displaced people who are disabled and elderly

March 21, 2011, (Santa Barbara)—Direct Relief International and the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) today made an initial cash transfer of $400,000 from its jointly established Japan Relief and Recovery Fund to Association for Aid and Relief Japan (AAR Japan), a 31-year-old leading Japanese nonprofit and nongovernmental organization.
This support will replenish funds that AAR Japan has expended on extensive emergency-relief operations and enable the organization to continue and expand its urgently needed emergency activities, which are focused on persons with disabilities and elderly persons affected by the earthquake, the resulting tsunami, and damage to a nuclear power plant.
AAR Japan responded immediately after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, dispatching emergency teams and providing essential nonfood supplies including diesel, kerosene, water, sanitary products, sleeping bags, and batteries, as well as some food staples, including fruits, rice, milk, and tea.

AAR Japan’s relief efforts are being conducted with approval from all local governments in the affected areas of Miyagi Prefecture and include support to 20 institutions, evacuation camps, and schools that have become temporary shelter for displaced residents.

This initial infusion of cash from the JACL-Direct Relief fund was made possible by thousands of individual donations and a $500,000 grant from Amgen; the amount is 25 percent of the $1.6 million in Japan-designated funds the organization has received since the March 11 quake.

In addition to the emergency cash grants, Direct Relief also has offered medical and personal care inventories available for immediate transport upon approval from the Government of Japan, which has thus far requested private international aid groups defer transporting material aid until needs can be identified and distribution channels cleared.
JACL’s Tokyo office, in cooperation with Professor Keiko Tanaka from Meiji Gakuin University, are serving to advise, identify, and liaise with Japanese NGOs conducting response activities.

JACL National Executive Director Floyd Mori and Direct Relief’s Chief Program Officer Brett Williams are travelling to Japan this week to conduct additional assessments and meet with Japanese counterpart organizations.
“The intent with this initial donation is to provide immediate, direct assistance to people who suffered an enormous tragedy and are experiencing severe hardship in Japan,” said JACL National Executive Director and CEO Floyd Mori. “Through the JACL network and close coordination with Direct Relief, we are very pleased that these resources will enable AAR Japan to continue its essential work in the affected areas. One of the critical issues to donors is that money donated will directly assist the stricken. In working with Direct Relief we are assured of this,” said Mori.

“We recognize that this emergency caused AAR Japan to tap whatever resources they had to respond fast, and this initial transfer of funds is intended to ensure that they are able to replenish funds and maintain urgently needed activities,” said Direct Relief CEO and President Thomas Tighe. “As Direct Relief has learned from long experience in emergency situations, persons with disabling conditions have even more acute challenges that require specialized attention. We are pleased to join in this effort and deeply thankful for the generosity that we have witnessed from people and businesses wishing to help.”

About Direct Relief International

Direct Relief International is California’s largest medical relief organization, active in all 50 states and 70 countries. It works with more than 1,000 health clinics across the U.S. to assist in emergencies and an ongoing basis, providing them with free medications for people in need.  Direct Relief is among the largest medical suppliers to Haiti in response to the 2010 earthquake.

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