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Oxfam calls for political solution to be prioritised in Syria/Turkey conflict

There is no military solution to the situation in Syria and the best way to protect civilians is an immediate cessation of hostilities, Oxfam said.

The aid agency, which has been providing support to conflict-affected communities throughout the war and is closely monitoring the evolving situation, urged all parties to focus their efforts on a political solution.

“All sides must ensure every measure is taken to protect civilians and facilitate safe, unhindered humanitarian access to people in desperate need of relief wherever they are,” said Colm Byrne, humanitarian manager with Oxfam Ireland.

Many thousands of families caught up in the fighting in the north east of Syria are being forced to flee in the sixth day of conflict, while the media is reporting that more than 50 civilians have lost their lives*. Oxfam, calling for international humanitarian law to be upheld, said civilians are never legitimate targets in any conflict.

New damage to water systems in north-east Syria is reducing amount of available water in major population centres and is likely to impact civilians forced to flee their homes due to conflict, Oxfam warned. The UN says up to 160,000 civilians are now on the move and it expects the number to rise.

As another harsh winter approaches and the conflict in the north east of Syria escalates, displaced people will be in desperate need of food, clean water, clothing, warm blankets, stoves and fuel. Oxfam is on the ground in Syria, already helping over one million people with aid including water, cash and essential clothing items.
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Oxfam Ireland’s Humanitarian Manager Colm Byrne, recently returned from Syria, is available for interview.
For more information please contact: Phillip Graham on 00 44 (0) 7841 102535 / phillip.graham@oxfam.org

NOTES TO EDITORS

Media reports of more than 50 civilians killed: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-50039106

Oxfam Ireland has launched an emergency appeal for public donations for Syria. People can donate online via www.oxfamireland.org/syria-appeal, or through Oxfam Ireland’s network of 47 retail shops across the island. To find the Oxfam shop nearest to you, visit  www.oxfamireland.org/shops

In 2018/19, Oxfam in Syria helped over 1.2 million people with aid including clean water, cash, essential clothing items, and support to help make a living and grow nutritious food. In Lebanon and Jordan, Oxfam has to date helped some 300,000 people affected by the Syria crisis. •

Before this latest escalation in conflict 12 million people in Syria needed humanitarian aid and 300,000 have already lost their lives. • According to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there are at least 1,650,000 people in need of humanitarian assistance in north-east Syria

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Oxfam calls for international community urgent action to prevent humanitarian crisis in North-East Syria

Oxfam Ireland launches emergency appeal for North-East Syria

Oxfam is calling for urgent action from the international community to do all in their power to ensure that the humanitarian situation in north-east Syria does not worsen further.

Oxfam Ireland has also now launched an emergency appeal for public donations, following on from the aid agency’s announcement that it is providing new funding for the unfolding and ongoing humanitarian crisis.

Amid news reports of an increasingly chaotic situation and escalating humanitarian concerns following the US withdrawal from north-eastern Syria, and Turkey’s offensive, Oxfam is primarily concerned for the safety, security and rights of the civilians caught in the middle.

Oxfam is calling on all sides to protect civilians, adhere to international humanitarian law and to allow full access to aid.

Oxfam Ireland’s Humanitarian Manager Colm Byrne, recently returned from Syria, said: “As concerns continue to raise for the humanitarian consequences of on-going hostilities, we re-iterate the need for the international community to respond.

“For too long, the conflict in Syria has risked becoming a forgotten crisis and the world can no longer stand idly by. Urgent action is needed to prevent potentially dire consequences for families and children who find themselves once again caught up in deadly violence. All children must be protected and provided humanitarian assistance.

“With an ongoing major crisis in Idlib and huge needs across the country, the aid response in Syria is already stretched to breaking point.

“This latest violence is compounding the suffering of civilians in Syria – nine years after the crisis began. Before this latest escalation in conflict 12 million people needed humanitarian aid and 300,000 have already lost their lives.

“The security situation in the area is already fragile, with tens of thousands of fighters and their families being held in camps and detention centres.

“An estimated 450,000 people live within 3 miles of the Syria-Turkey border and are at risk if all sides do not exercise maximum restraint and prioritize the protection of civilians. According to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there are at least 1,650,000 people in need of humanitarian assistance in north-east Syria. The population includes more than 90,000 internally displaced people, who have already been forced to flee their homes at least once in Syria’s unrelenting war.

“Oxfam is on the ground, already helping over one million people in Syria with aid including clean water, cash and essential clothing items. Those now forced to flee are facing a winter of dreadful conditions with little means to survive it – they urgently need food, water, clothing, warm blankets, stoves and fuel. As winter approaches and the conflict escalates we urgently need to continue our live-saving work to reach even more women, children and men in desperate need.”

People wishing to support Oxfam’s emergency appeal for Syria can donate online via www.oxfamireland.org/syria-appeal, or through Oxfam Ireland’s network of 47 retail shops across the island. To find the Oxfam shop nearest to you, visit www.oxfamireland.org/shops .

ENDS

Oxfam Ireland’s Humanitarian Manager Colm Byrne, recently returned from Syria, is available for interview. For more information please contact:

Phillip Graham on 00 44 (0) 7841 102535 / phillip.graham@oxfam.org

NOTES TO EDITORS

  • In 2018/19, Oxfam in Syria helped over 1.2 million people with aid including clean water, cash, essential clothing items, and support to help make a living and grow nutritious food. In Lebanon and Jordan, Oxfam has to date helped some 300,000 people affected by the Syria crisis.

Omar* (27 years old), Fatima* and their 2-year-old son. Photo Credit: Pablo Tosco/Oxfam

Oxfam Ireland provides additional funding for new humanitarian crisis in Syria

 

Oxfam has announced additional funding for the unfolding and ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria and called for urgent international action to prevent the situation deteriorating further following Turkey’s intervention.

Oxfam Ireland’s Humanitarian Manager Colm Byrne, recently returned from Syria, said:

This latest violence serves as a reminder to the international community that the crisis in Syria, now in its 9th year, never went away. This was already an unprecedented human tragedy unfolding on an unimaginable scale – nearly 12 million people are still in need of humanitarian aid."

The news reports of civilians being killed and injured, homes being destroyed and communities having to flee for their lives at such short notice, is truly disturbing and distressing. To see the stories of tens of thousands of people being displaced in the space of two days is shocking. These are numbers we have become numb to, complacent of, in a conflict which amidst world events, increasingly lacks the attention of the international community that it deserves.

Many will have left their homes in such a panic, with only what they could grab and the clothes on their backs. We are now committing an extra €50,000 to support those caught up in conflict in Syria.

Armed conflict in almost every context has implications for the capacity of humanitarian agencies to reach those most in need. Throughout Syria, those forced to flee the ongoing conflict already face another approaching winter of dreadful conditions. Many have little means to face the harsh weather. They urgently need food, water, clothing, warm blankets, stoves, and fuel.

Byrne added that all sides in the conflict must ensure that their military operations do not intentionally target civilians or civilian infrastructure, and civilians should be provided with the right to free movement. “Governments must adhere to international humanitarian law and allow full access to aid. Any refugee returns from Turkey that may follow must be safe, dignified, and voluntary.”

The scale of the required response means that world leaders urgently need to do more to help. The humanitarian response in Syria remains significantly underfunded; as of July 2019, the UN’s response plan for the year was less than a quarter (23.5%) funded, with over $2.5bn of aid, required to meet humanitarian needs identified across Syria.

Over 300,000 people have lost their lives as a result of the conflict in Syria, with hundreds of thousands more seriously injured. The conflict is driving the largest displacement crisis in the world. 6.2 million people have had to flee their homes within Syria – many several times.

According to the UN, 6.5 million people are facing acute food insecurity, and over one-third of the population relies on unsafe water supply. Seven-in-ten people are living in extreme poverty.

In 2018/19, Oxfam in Syria helped over 1.2 million people with aid including clean water, cash, essential clothing items, and support to help make a living and grow nutritious food. In Lebanon and Jordan, Oxfam has to date helped some 300,000 people affected by the Syria crisis.

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Oxfam has spokespeople available for interview. For more information please contact: Phillip Graham on 00 44 (0) 7841 102535 / phillip.graham@oxfam.org

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Oxfam warns of humanitarian crisis as violence escalates in North-East Syria

 

Civilians at risk and humanitarian work suspended.

Civilians in North-East Syria are at risk and humanitarian aid could be cut off following the launch of a new military operation in the area, Oxfam Ireland has warned.

Reports from humanitarian responders on the ground say civilians are already on the move and that some vital services have been interrupted, including vital medical facilities and water supplies. Agencies say that some of their staff have fled with their families, while others are on lockdown.

Oxfam Ireland’s Humanitarian Manager Colm Byrne, recently returned from Syria, said: “Urgent action is needed to ensure that the humanitarian situation in North-East Syria does not worsen, with potentially dire consequences for families and children who find themselves once again caught up in deadly violence. An estimated 450,000 people live within 5km of the Syria-Turkey border and are at risk if all sides do not exercise maximum restraint and prioritise the protection of civilians. The population includes more than 90,000 internally displaced people, who have already been forced to flee their homes at least once in Syria’s unrelenting war.” 

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there are at least 1,650,000 people in need of humanitarian assistance in North-East Syria. The life-saving humanitarian response will be threatened if instability forces aid agencies to suspend or relocate their programming and staff, as is already happening. With an ongoing major crisis in Idlib and huge needs across the country, the aid response in Syria is already stretched to breaking point. Oxfam is urging parties to the conflict to fully respect International Humanitarian Law and ensure that they refrain from using explosive weapons in populated areas.

They must ensure all measures are taken to protect civilians and facilitate safe, unhindered humanitarian access. People living in the area affected by this military action have the right to freedom of movement and must not be forcibly displaced from their homes. Likewise, there must be no forcible returns of refugees living in Turkey to Syria. Anyone returned could face threats to their safety and security, continued internal displacement and reliance on humanitarian assistance that the international community is not in a position to provide. According to the Government of Turkey, an estimated 83 per cent of the three million Syrians in Turkey do not originate from the North-East.

The international community has an important role to play in helping to resolve this crisis."

The UN Security Council must emphasise the need for restraint and reiterate importance of protecting civilians and facilitating unimpeded humanitarian operations.

“The security situation in the area is already fragile, with tens of thousands of fighters and their families being held in camps and detention centres. All children must be protected and provided humanitarian assistance, and countries of origin should take immediate steps to repatriate the estimated 9,000 children from at least 40 different nationalities who are in North-East Syria.”

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Oxfam has spokespeople available for interview. 

For more information please contact:
Phillip Graham on 00 44 (0) 7841 102535 / phillip.graham@oxfam.org

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Oxfam stages Women Alone – an event exploring key issues of our time at CADA NI’s One World Festival

EVENT NOTICE

Interactive theatre experience imagines a Northern Ireland devastated by disaster, displacement, conflict and poverty

WHAT:                          Women Alone – an interactive theatre experience by Joanne O’Connor

WHEN:                         Tuesday 22nd October from 7.00pm – 9.30pm

WHERE:                       Crescent Arts Centre, 2-4 University Road, Belfast, BT7 1NH

TICKETS:                     oneworldfestivalni.com/events/women-alone/  (Admission free)

As part of this month’s inaugural One World Festival, Oxfam Ireland will imagine a Northern Ireland overwhelmed by humanitarian disaster, displacement, conflict and poverty through an interactive theatre experience at the Crescent Arts Centre in Belfast.  

On Tuesday 22nd October at 7pm, the international development agency will stage a thought-provoking play entitled Women Alone, inspired by the strength and resilience of the women Oxfam works with across its long-term development and humanitarian programmes. The drama is set in a contemporary Northern Ireland following an unspecified humanitarian emergency and brings home global stories of refugees and displacement, poverty, gender and conflict.

Playwright Joanne O’Connor, Oxfam Ireland’s Content Executive, said: “The play is inspired by two powerful first-person stories from women we work with from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda – women who have suffered unimaginable tragedy but overcame to help others survive and even thrive.”

Actor Eileen McCloskey plays the role of Rita, a former midwife who fled the violence in her home country when the war intensified and is now an Oxfam-assisted hygiene worker educating a refugee camp community on the importance of good sanitation. The role of Flonira – who was widowed during the conflict, and used funds earned from an Oxfam-supported cooperative to help pay for her son’s college studies – is played by Cathy Brennan-Bradley.

O’Connor continued: “The fictionalised versions of their stories will be told in familiar accents against a Northern Irish landscape to help bring home the faraway stories we hear again and again in the news – accompanied by images and stories from our own work around the world.

“Right now, there are over 70 million people on the move globally, forced to flee their homes because of conflict, persecution and war. This number is too big to comprehend – but with Women Alone, we hope to highlight the individual stories which reflect the often harrowing, at times triumphant lived experience of the one. The themes – family, separation, loss, hope and new beginnings – are universal and will hopefully resonate deeply with people here.”

The performance will be followed by a space to reflect on the important role women and local communities play in responding to poverty and disaster through a discussion chaired by former BBC broadcaster Roisin McAuley.

Admission is free and the event will take place on Tuesday 22nd October from 7pm – 9.30pm at the Crescent Arts Centre, 2-4 University Road, Belfast BT7 1NH. Tickets are available at oneworldfestivalni.com/events/women-alone/

The One World Festival will bring together more than 40 events in Belfast, Derry, Armagh and Lisburn from 16-27th October, exploring the world we share through a diverse line-up of talks, music, poetry, film, drama, debate and storytelling. The festival has been organised by the Coalition of Aid and Development Agencies (CADA NI) – made up of 20 overseas development and humanitarian charities in Northern Ireland – to explore global issues and inspire action locally towards a just, peaceful and sustainable world.

A full list of the One World Festival programme events is available at oneworldfestivalni.com.

ENDS

Oxfam has spokespeople available for interview. For more information or to arrange an interview please contact: Phillip Graham on 07841 102535 / phillip.graham@oxfam.org

NOTES TO EDITORS

  • About Oxfam Ireland

Oxfam is a global movement of people working together to beat poverty for good. Around the globe, we work to find practical, innovative ways for people to lift themselves out of poverty and thrive. Together we save lives and rebuild communities when disaster strikes. We also speak out on the big issues that keep people poor, like inequality and discrimination against women. Oxfam Ireland is one of 19 Oxfam affiliates working as one in more than 90 countries. Oxfam has been supported by people across the island of Ireland, north and south, for over 60 years. We have over 2,000 volunteers, 140 staff and 47 shops throughout the island.

For more information about Oxfam, visit www.oxfamireland.org

  • About One World Festival

This new festival will run from 16th – 27th October 2019 across various locations and venues in Northern Ireland, to increase awareness about the Global South, promote understanding of issues that affect the lives of the poorest people and inspire action in our communities towards a just, peaceful and sustainable world.

Ticketed events can be reserved or purchased online at oneworldfestivalni.com

  • About CADA NI

CADA NI, or the Coalition of Aid and Development Agencies Northern Ireland, is the umbrella organisation of overseas aid and development agencies with an active presence in Northern Ireland. Member organisations work to promote sustainable development, social justice and a fairer society in both local and global contexts. They support sustainable international development by enhancing awareness and a better understanding of development issues in Northern Ireland, and influencing policy at local, national and international government level.

For more information visit www.cada-ni.org

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