The March 17 report from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on the Japan quake and tsunami says large amounts of humanitarian aid have been gathered nationwide, but the largest obstacle has been transporting it to the 430,000 homeless sheltering in evacuation centres.
To date, 18 main routes, five airports and six ports have been restored for aid delivery near and in the affected areas. However, a lack of fuel is making it difficult to get the assistance to evacuation centres. To help resolve this problem, the government has established a centralised delivery scheme which involves local governments collecting the aid and the Defense Force then delivering it to the centres.
DEATH TOLL: The number of casualties continues to rise: the government has now confirmed 5,178 people have died and another 2,285 are injured. The number of people who are missing has increased to 8,913 from 7,844.
HEALTH: There is increasing concern about the health of the evacuees, due to the lack of medical supplies and heating equipment. In Fukushima Prefecture, 14 people evacuated from hospitals have died to date, most of them elderly.
FOOD: The government says 1.5 million meals have been delivered in total to evacuation centres and hospitals in the affected areas, up from just under half a million on Wednesday.
NGO RELIEF WORK: The Japanese government has advised: "Search and rescue operation phase still continues in the affected areas at this moment and the access to those areas is strictly limited to rescue workers. It is also reported that there is temporary shortage of petrol in the affected area. International/foreign NGOs are recommended to wait until the situation improves so that those NGOs are able to conduct their activities in a self-sustainable way."
According to OCHA, some 13 NGOs are providing assistance in the affected areas, working through local partners. Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has a team of 10 people divided into three groups, conducting mobile clinics and assessments in Miyagi prefecture. The Turkish Red Crescent, Switzerland Humanitarian Aid Response Team, Save the Children and Plan International have deployed technical assistance teams.
For the full report: www.reliefweb.int