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Why were we There?

  • Natural disasters

Our Work

Japan tsunami

  • The earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on 11 March 2011 devastated the northeastern coast of Honshu island.
  • Approximately 15,000 people were killed and 6,000 were injured.
  • Japanese emergency teams were largely able to respond to the needs of survivors, and Médecins Sans Frontières offered specialist assistance.
  • The day after the quake and tsunami, staff made their way to affected areas by helicopter and began providing survivors with medical care and distributing relief items.
  • In the weeks that followed, Médecins Sans Frontières distributed blankets, water, a generator for a temporary shelter in Baba-Nakayama village and hygiene kits containing soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste and towels. Médecins Sans Frontières also provided kits containing batteries, candles and matches


Work in Minami Sanriku and Taro

  • Médecins Sans Frontières worked principally in the northern coastal towns of Minami Sanriku and Taro, where the main healthcare facilities were totally destroyed.
  • Médecins Sans Frontières delivered two 30-seater buses to authorities in Minami Sanriku to help transport patients from evacuation centres and temporary housing to medical facilities.
  • At the request of people staying in a centre in Baba-Nakayama, Médecins Sans Frontières designed and helped construct a semi-permanent shelter close by.
  • In Taro, Médecins Sans Frontières designed and built a temporary clinic, for use until a more permanent structure was completed. This was handed over to local health authorities in December.
  • Médecins Sans Frontières also delivered a vehicle specifically designed to transport disabled patients living in and around Taro.


Psychological support

  • After the initial emergency response, the team shifted focus to the mental health needs of survivors, offering psychological support, especially for people living in evacuation centres.
  • Médecins Sans Frontières psychologists carried out activities to raise awareness of mental health issues and the support that was available.
  • Médecins Sans Frontières staff accompanied nurses on visits to temporary shelters and provided direct training in mental health during consultations with patients.
  • In April, a café was set up near the Bayside Arena of Minami Sanriku. Here, people could talk in an informal setting, with a team of Médecins Sans Frontières psychologists on hand to provide counselling.
  • The main problems reported by people at the café related to stress management, difficulties with memory and concentration, and sleeping disorders due to crowded conditions in temporary housing.
  • At the end of June, Médecins Sans Frontières handed over its activities at the café to a local association.


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Médecins Sans Frontières began working in the country in 2011.