Statement concerning the support of people moved to temporary housings
Human Rights Now (HRN)
1 Main points
(1) HRN urges the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare to issue notices to supply immediate and short term food aid for people living in temporary housing and face difficulty in living independently as is based on the Disaster Relief Act.
(2) HRN urges local governments :
to continue supply of foods for people who have moved to temporary housing and face difficulties in independent living.
to provide cycle, bus or transportation services for medical care facilities to elderly or disabled people who have physical difficulty in ambulation.to construct assembly halls around temporary housing immediately as bases for welfare activities and medical care.
2 Reasons for this statement
1 The discontinuation of food aid to people who have been moved to temporary housing from evacuation centers.
In the 4 months that have passed since the earthquake, more and more people have begun to move to temporary housing from the evacuation centers. (According to statistics from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, in July 7th, this includes 7403 houses in Iwate, 9619 houses in Miyagi and 553 houses in Fukushima.) However, because support of food aid for those moved to temporary houses in those areas are not given adequately there is serious concern for the protection of disaster victims and support for reconstruction.
2 Food aid
More and more local governments have begun to stop to provide food aid for those moved to temporary housing from evacuation centers. For example, according to press reports, it has been mentioned that the local government of Rikuzen-Takada city will cease food aid for those living in temporary housing from June 10th. According to the Iwate government office, the support given to those living in temporary housing is decided by their respective cities. For example, while Kamaishi city does not provide food to temporary housing individuals, Ohunato city provides aid once after relocation and Otuchi town continues to provide food aid once in temporary housing.
It is also mentioned that the local government of Kesennuma city in Miyagi prefecture will cease food aid for those living in temporary housing by July 10th.
Local newspapers have reported that once people have been moved to temporary housing, they would no longer be given food aid. There are some who have been selected to move to temporary housing that have declined due to financial reasons, especially due to the lack of food aid.
Even some people interviewed by HRN in evacuation centers claimed that they hesitate to apply for temporary housing or would not move to those houses even if they were selected due to anxiety for the future and would prefer to live in evacuation centers despite abominable conditions.
According to media reports, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare stated: “we do not expect to continue food support for people after relocation to temporary housing since temporary housing is designed to help those residents to begin their independent lives.” It is obvious that they do not understand the seriousness of the difficulties faced by disaster victims.
3 Transportation services to medical facilities.
Temporary housings tend to be built on lands inconvenient for transportation such as land on mountains or land far away from a center of the cities because of difficulties of acquirement of sites. People who moved to those temporary housing face adversities for transportations since they do not have means of transportations. Elderly of disabled people face the greatest difficulty of these situation. Even though many people clam that they want cycle bus or transportation services, according to the research of HRN, those transportation services are not fulfilled in most of devastated areas.
It is reported that Toshie Sasaki (79) from Minamisanriku city who has evacuated to Naruko-Onsen, a facility in Osaki city, Miyagi prefecture, was selected in a drawing to move to a temporary housing in Mimamisanriku city. Though thorough a orientation for moving in to temporary housings, he came to know that if he moved to this temporary house, there will be no longer free transportation services to hospital nor food aids for him, and he decided to continue to live in Naruko-Onsen because of those conditions.
3 Assembly Halls
The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare issued a notice on 15th April 2011, which stated that if more than 50 temporary housing projects were built on one premise or premises close to each other, an assembly hall can be set up.
Though, not many assembly halls were constructed so far nor have those built been working properly as was expected, in that they fail to provide information for daily living, insurance and welfare services. These halls also fail to work as a base for the private sector to provide various support services.
In May 2011, HRN proposed the statement (as mentioned below) concerning disaster relief for those affected who have been moved to temporary housing, and urged the Japanese central government, local government, and related agencies to take preemptive moves.
From now on, the situation must be avoided in which people moved to temporary housing are forced to live in isolation from their communities without sufficient support and information.
Some people in evacuation centers are worried about the provision of temporary housing, and think they have no choice but to stay in evacuation centers because in temporary housing they might have difficulty obtaining food.
As for the construction of temporary houses and the relocation of affected people, HRN requests that the central government and local governments do the following:
• Issue a circular notice that requires the continued provision of support, under the Disaster Relief Act, such as food, clothing and medical care, to affected people who move into temporary houses,
• Establish a framework that provides an environment in which various services, including administrative services, access to support systems, information and medical care sufficiently reach all those affected.
Even after proposal of this statement, appropriate support for this problem was not taken, and the situation has continued to deteriorate.
Many numbers of affected people are still not given ways to return to normalcy in their daily lives with opportunities to earn a livelihood. Furthermore, distribution of relief money has been delayed seriously and “double-loan problems” have not been solved yet.
It is a serious violation of human rights to ask “self-independence” of affected people when reconstruction, restoration and compensation, all of which is necessary for those affected, have not been fulfilled.
Disaster Relief Act states that it provides food aid to people who have suffered from relevant disasters and need support. Disaster Relief Act does not exclude the situation of moving to temporary housing.
This law is basically defined to give support for seven days from when the disaster struck. It also states that if necessary, the support term can be made longer and this has resulted in the continuation of food aid so far.
HRN urges the central government to issue a notice to continue food aid for affected people even after moving to temporary housing as this is a responsibility of the Japanese government.
HRN also urges the local governments to continue all support including food aid necessary for the lives of those affected.
HRN also urges the central government and local governments to provide transportation services for medical support of disabled or elderly people, which have been greatly required by those affected.
HRN also urges the central government and local governments to construct assemble halls in temporary housing immediately and establish them as bases for providing information for daily life, insurance and welfare services and as bases for the activities of NGOs and volunteer teams to provide various support.
After the Great Hanshin-Awaji earthquake, it has been stated that the number of solitary deaths have risen to 233 by 1999, which was last when temporary housing was used, and similarly, after the Great East Japan Earthquake, the number of solitary deaths or deaths by suicide have risen.
The violation of the human rights of those affected, especially of elderly and disabled people, who were not given the necessary support, must be stopped. HRN urges the central government and local governments to take sufficient actions for the protection of affected people.