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Wednesday, March 30, 2011, 18:27

Recent events in Japan are uppermost in all our thoughts and we all want to assist with aid.  Disaster Aid Canada has not yet deployed aid to Japan and as explained below, we will continue to monitor the situation and be available if and when asked. 

Follow the link to the official, on site report from “OCHA” United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Aid which gives a more complete and up to date picture of conditions in the disaster zone. http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900sid/ASAZ-8FDGZE/$File/full_report.pdf

 We want to help just like every other NGO, but when it is not needed, why rush it there and not have it be of use, and end up being part of the problem rather than the solution.  Our donors expect better of us.

 While we might be tempted to take advantage of donors’ urge to help by seeking donations to replenish stocks for the “next big one”, this would take away the unique appeal of our type of charity which seeks to create a personal link between the victims and the donors. Our donors are provided with a picture of the family they helped wherever possible, and it is somewhat disappointing when a donor feels they want to reach out and help a Japanese family only to discover down the road their money went to some other purpose.

 The Chairman of Disaster Aid Canada recently sent the following reply to a question from a Past Canadian Rotary District Governor.

 Dear Joan,

Thank you for your interest. It is our policy to send our Family Survival Packs only if they can be of material help to people in distress due to natural or manmade disaster. We therefore take advice to people on the ground, Government bodies and other agencies who are directly involved. We, and our international partners have been in touch with the Japanese authorities in Canada, Australia and the UK with descriptive information of our Disaster Aid Family kits, in all cases we were advised that this was not the type of aid needed and, further, the Japanese Government has advised that aid workers were only to go to Japan in appropriate missions so as not to put an additional burden on their facilities. We have been guided by their advice. We weren’t forbidden to go but the advice not to was certainly clear. Japan is probably the most well prepared of any country in the world to deal with disasters of this kind (tsunami and earthquake). I am attaching a document produced by OCHA – the United Nations office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs – which seems bear out our conclusions.

Had this been a third world country we would not have hesitated for a minute but the last thing we want to do is send unwanted or un-needed aid that once sent would not be retrievable. We have a duty to our donors to act responsibly in how we dispense their donations.

 I Hope this answers your enquiry and if I can be of further assistance please get back to me

 Jim Leamy, Chair, Disaster Aid Canada  


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