protest-sign LoveThe American Red Cross announced that the public has generously donated $120.5 million to help the people of Japan following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

“The American public have not forgotten the generosity of the Japanese people when we suffered tremendous loss after the 9/11 attacks and, more recently, after Hurricane Katrina,” said Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the American Red Cross. “Collectively, the Japanese Red Cross sent us contributions of close to $30 million. Now it is our opportunity – and our duty –  to do what we can to help you.”

The money will go to the Japanese Red Cross, which is providing direct emergency relief, medical services and emotional counseling to affected communities.

“Almost three weeks after one of the most devastating earthquakes in history, we are immensely grateful to the American public for their continued generosity,” said David Meltzer, senior vice president of international services with the American Red Cross.

The Japanese Red Cross is a highly experienced disaster relief organization with 2 million registered volunteers, many of whom have responded to help their neighbors affected by the earthquake, tsunami and evolving nuclear emergency.

Red Cross volunteers and staff in Japan continue to provide relief items and emotional support, with dozens of medical teams operating in hospitals and mobile clinics treating those affected by the disasters.

Immediately after the earthquake and tsunami, the Red Cross provided 125,500 blankets and 25,000 emergency kits. The Red Cross is increasing its relief operations for survivors in evacuation centers and is planning to provide supplies for 100,000 people still homeless. More supplies and fuel are also reaching affected areas.

Overall, the conditions for survivors appear to be improving: the number of people in shelters in Japan has been cut in half to 244,000 from nearly half a million.

In addition to the funds provided to support work by the Japanese Red Cross, the American Red Cross has given $500,000 to the United Nation’s World Food Programme for logistics support for the delivery and storage of relief items for survivors. The American Red Cross also has been assisting in the voluntary evacuations of military families from Japan.

The announcement was made Tuesday at a press conference at the Japanese embassy with Japan’s Ambassador to the United States Ichiro Fujisaki and American Red Cross Chairman Bonnie McElveen-Hunter.

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