First Japanese Families Move Into ShelterBox Tents

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International charity ShelterBox hands out disaster-relief kits for those displaced by the devastating Japanese earthquake and tsunami. Photo: ShelterBox, Mark Pearson

This week, the first Japanese families left homeless after the earthquake moved into tents furnished by ShelterBox, an international charity that distributes emergency supplies and shelters in disaster-stricken areas.

The UK-based nonprofit provides disaster survivors with a ShelterBox kit that is designed in line with sustainability principles: It gives families long-term temporary shelter and supplies to be self-sufficient in the months after an emergency. Kits contain cooking and water-purification equipment, as well as tents that withstand extreme weather.


ShelterBox set up tents in the Iwate Prefecture in northern Japan this week, where police say nearly 11,000 buildings were destroyed. The tents offer independence, privacy and protection from the frigid Japanese winter.

“People have been living in very cramped, confined conditions in emergency shelters, cars, hotels and shared accommodation for nearly two weeks now, and the cracks are starting to show,” said Mark Pearson, ShelterBox field operations specialist. “Temporary housing is being built but the sheer scale of this disaster means that it will take time to provide suitable housing for the estimated 261,000 people living in evacuation centers.”

ShelterBox arrived in Japan less than 24 hours after the earthquake and will continue to hand out kits across the region.

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