Flood of donations for the industrialized nation

The first appeal for donations for Japan was not long in coming: Already on the day after the catastrophe, the alliance "Aktion Deutschland hilft" went public. Within a week, several million euros have been collected. But one thing is different this time: for the first time in years, Germans are collecting for an industrialized country – after all, the third strongest economy in the world.

The German Red Cross (DRK) has received 2.9 million euros so far. The alliance "Aktion Deutschland hilft", which includes Care Deutschland, Johanniter and Malteser, managed 700.000 Euros. This means that after seven days, the volume of donations is as high as after the devastating earthquake in bitterly poor Haiti.

The donations will be forwarded in full to the Japanese Red Cross, says DRK spokeswoman Svenja Koch. In the disaster areas there is still a lack of water, food and medical care. Over 2.000 caregivers took care of traumatized victims. Other funds would be used for reconstruction, health stations or gasoline.

Caritas Japan has its focus on social work, i.e. helping the homeless, the elderly, the disabled and the sick, as Caritas spokesman Achim Reinke said in Freiburg. Also the 500.000 Japanese Catholics had started a donation campaign. After the disaster, the focus will be on reconstruction, for example of health centers and hospitals.

Because of Japan's own aid possibilities, Caritas is not aggressively soliciting donations: "We will not write to our donors separately," Reinke said. The situation is different from a developing country. In Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere, the earthquake in January 2010 left more than 200 people homeless.000 dead given.

Appeals are restrained The organizations are caught in a dichotomy between Japanese prosperity and thousands of people suffering. The German Red Cross (DRK) and the Coalition for Action (Aktionsbundnis) are more cautious than usual in their appeals for donations in the case of Japan. DRK spokeswoman Koch has already heard critical tones. But from their point of view, the Japanese should not be punished for their good standard of living.


Also "Action Germany helps" has not made the decision easy. "We have long discussed internally about a call for donations," says spokeswoman Birte Steigert. In the end, however, the decision was made. "Even for an industrialized nation like Japan, the "triple catastrophe" is an incomparable challenge." Meant earthquake, tsunami and fleeing the threat of a super-GAU at the Fukushima nuclear reactor.

The children's agency UNICEF speaks of a "special case" and in return refers to the basically high willingness of the Japanese to donate. "The Japanese generally donate more than we do," says UNICEF spokeswoman Helga Kuhn.

Caution required
The German Central Institute for Social Ies (DZI), which is known for awarding the seal of approval for donations, is cautious. There are reasons for the sensitive approach to appeals for donations, says DZI Managing Director Burkhard Wilke. Organizations receiving donations should check every day whether they really needed the money. Some blindly accept money without having a direct use for it. Ultimately, however, Wilke also sees no alternative to donating: "The plight of one must not be played off against the plight of the other."

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