Neena Sasaki’s home was destroyed in the Tohoku tsunami. Children are key to building resilient communities.

On 15 March, Neena Sasaki, 5, surveys the wreckage of her home, which was destroyed by the 11 March tsunami, in Rikuzen-Takaata, a small town in Iwate Prefecture. Her family has returned to their home to salvage some belongings. The town suffered thousands of fatalities; relief workers ran out of body bags during recovery operations.

By 24 March 2011 in Japan, aftershocks continue in areas affected by the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated the northeast coast on 11 March. The confirmed death toll stands at 9,408, and 14,716 people remain missing. The quake and tsunami have also damaged the Fukushima Daiichi and Daini nuclear power plants, giving rise to a nuclear emergency. Both plants suffered explosions, and the Fukushima Daiichi plant has experienced dangerous radiation leaks, causing widespread radioactive contamination of vegetables, tap water and milk. Some 261,000 people remain in evacuation centres, down from almost a half million people on 16 March. Over 83,000 of evacuees are from communities near the damaged Fukushima power plants. Some 90 per cent of telecommunications has been restored, but 216,000 households remain without power, and 760,000 are without water. The Government has initiated construction of temporary housing and is assessing the number of children orphaned by the disaster. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is assisting the Government’s response, and UNICEF has deployed logistics teams. The Japan Committee for UNICEF has ordered early childhood development kits, schools-in-a-box, and recreation kits for distribution to children affected by the emergency. The International Atomic Energy Agency is coordinating international support for the Government’s management of the nuclear crisis.

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