|Rescue workers at Sendai Airport, in the city of Shendai, located in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. The airport was damaged by the 11 March earthquake and subsequent tsunami.|
NEW YORK, USA, 14 March 2011 – UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake today issued a statement conveying the organization’s deep concern and support for the Japanese people in the aftermath of the disaster they have experienced in recent days.
“As the world unites in support for the people of Japan, we at UNICEF express our heartfelt sympathy for the tragic loss of life following the massive earthquake and tsunami,” said Mr. Lake. “This double catastrophe has left the country and its friends stunned and bereaved, and new threats caused by the quake and its aftermath continue to be of utmost concern to us all.”
He continued: “As in all emergencies of such devastating magnitude, children are the most vulnerable. Working in close cooperation with the Japan Committee for UNICEF, we have offered our support to protect the children affected by this catastrophe and to provide critical services in the days ahead.”
Mr. Lake visited Japan last May, less than two weeks after becoming UNICEF’s Executive Director, to take part in a child-rights advocacy event at United Nations University, Tokyo. There he met with His Imperial Highness Crown Prince Naruhito, senior government officials, representatives of the Parliamentary League for UNICEF and the Japan Committee for UNICEF, Japanese Goodwill Ambassadors and children.
|Children and their mothers play in an emergency evacuation centre for people affected by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami, in the city of Koriyama, located in Japan's Fukushima Prefecture.|
In his remarks in Tokyo, Mr. Lake thanked the government and people of Japan for their extraordinary support of programmes for children. Japan has long been one of the leading sources of both government and private-sector support for UNICEF.
“The Japanese Government and the Japanese people are firm supporters of UNICEF’s mission to help improve the lives of children in need,” Mr. Lake said in May. “Japan’s leadership on the Millennium Development Goals has also been, and will continue to be, very significant.”
‘We stand ready to assist’
In his statement today, Mr. Lake reaffirmed the organization’s gratitude for the historic assistance that Japan has provided for vulnerable children and families – adding that UNICEF is prepared to do whatever it can to help those who are now at risk in Japan itself.
|A girl and her parents queue for water in an emergency evacuation centre for people affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan.|
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Japan, one of the world's most generous nations,” he said. “We stand ready to assist them as they have helped so many others, in these, their days of greatest need.”
The Japan Committee for UNICEF was founded in 1955 and has grown to become a leading force for child rights in Japan and around the world. UNICEF also maintains a headquarters office in Tokyo to coordinate advocacy and communication work with government policy makers.