Emergencies

  • When an emergency hits, Oxfam is there. We work with local partners on the ground so we can save lives during times of crisis and reduce future risks. We help people caught up in natural disasters and conflicts by providing clean water, food, sanitation and protection. At any given time, we’re responding to over 30 emergency situations, giving life-saving support to those most in need.

Emergencies don't stop during the COVID-19 crisis

Here’s a brief update on some of the emergency work Oxfam supporters made possible this year.

Since March 2020 Oxfam has worked to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and support people’s basic food needs and livelihoods. During this time, we also advocated for a mass-produced, fairly distributed coronavirus vaccine that is available to every individual, rich and poor alike: a People’s Vaccine.

In India in April and May 2021 the Delta variant of the disease spread through the country, affecting our partners, Oxfam staff, and millions of others. Oxfam India was already providing cash, food, and hand-washing stations for migrant laborers stuck without money, housing, food, or transport options. As the Delta variant surged, Oxfam continued to provide food (more than half a million rations and food packs) and hygiene items to people, while also delivering medical equipment to more than 100 hospitals and health centers, including gas cylinders, beds, and protective equipment. We also advocated for the government to help migrant workers returning to home villages with no jobs, and to reduce the vulnerability of women to domestic violence. Oxfam is active in 16 Indian states.

Ongoing Emergencies

In the meantime, Oxfam has also continued its response to humanitarian emergencies all over the globe, work made even more difficult owing to increased costs, prevention measures that limit staff movements, and the threat of infection. More than half of the people Oxfam is helping are women and girls, who have been disproportionately affected by COVID.

The UN estimates there are more than 1 million people seeking safety in and around Marib, Yemen. Kaff Media / Oxfam


Yemen: Oxfam has assisted three million people affected by the war in Yemen since 2015, providing water and sanitation assistance, cash, and food. This past year, fighting in the area around Marib has displaced more than a million people (75 percent of whom are women and children), who now seek shelter in camps in areas prone to flooding and sandstorms. Oxfam has assisted 14,000 people in Marib, delivering cash to more than 2,000 families and dislodging 55,000 litres of sewage from latrines each day.

Ethiopia: Since conflict broke out in the northern Tigray region in November 2020, Oxfam has been providing water, sanitation, and hygiene items to people displaced by fighting. Oxfam is calling on all parties to observe a cease-fire, prioritize the safety of civilians, re-establish public services, and grant aid agencies unconditional and safe access to help those at risk of severe hunger. So far, Oxfam and partners have reached nearly 85,000 people, and plan to assist 400,000.

Bangladesh: Since Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence came over the border from Myanmar in 2017, Oxfam and partners in Bangladesh have been assisting people living in extremely overcrowded conditions. Expanding on our mission to provide clean water and sanitation, Oxfam and its local partners stepped up hygiene promotion starting in 2020. We also produced clean water for more than 20,000 people who survived a fire in one section of the Kutupalong refugee camp in April 2021. When heavy rains in July flooded water treatment systems and latrines, Oxfam made repairs and distributed hygiene kits.

Sudden Emergencies

Oxfam and key local groups we collaborate with still must help people when conflict, storms, earthquakes, and other sudden disasters hit, even when assets and resources are already committed to long-term programs. Here are just a couple of examples:

Beirut: In August 2020, a warehouse storing ammonium nitrate in Beirut’s port exploded and killed more than 200 people, injured 7,000, and displaced 300,000. Oxfam, already committed to assisting Syrian refugees and host communities in eastern Lebanon, turned to the capital city and recruited 11 new partner organizations to provide cash, food, reconstruction assistance, and other help for vulnerable disabled people, women, and LGBTQ people affected by the blast. Oxfam’s partners continue to assist more than 10,000 people as they recover from the explosion amid the political and economic collapse in Lebanon.

An Oxfam volunteer hands out water purification tablets after heavy monsoon rains in southeast Bangladesh damaged Cox’s Bazar refugee camps, and displaced families. Shaikh Ashraf Ali/Oxfam


Gaza: In May 2021 rocket attacks and shelling in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel led to widespread damage in Gaza. Bombing reduced entire apartment blocks to rubble, destroyed roads, knocked out water and power systems, and damaged clinics and schools. Nearly 450,000 people in Gaza needed humanitarian assistance, and more than 100,000 people were displaced. When it was safe enough to do so, Oxfam worked with local aid groups in Gaza to provide blankets and mattresses, hygiene items, and the chemicals needed to operate three sea water desalination plants that provide drinking water for 400,000 people. Oxfam also provided cash to farming families to help them restart their work, and we plan to repair water and sanitation systems at 19 schools.

These are just a few of the crises Oxfam is working on in collaboration with local groups. Contributions from people like you are making this work possible, and we thank you for your support.

You can help people survive COVID-19 and other humanitarian emergencies while continuing programs to end inequality and poverty.

Trapped by the blockade, the people of Gaza cannot escape COVID-19

The recent lockdowns and restrictions make it feel like a strange time to be alive. Sadly, for Palestinians, it’s part and parcel of the struggle of everyday life. And now, as COVID-19 spreads across the globe, they face a new threat.

Pandemic or no pandemic, Gaza is already experiencing a dire humanitarian crisis. A 13-year-long blockade has devastated the economy, caused widespread destruction and left most people largely cut off from the outside world.

Ahmed taking his donkey out to find water
Ahmed will take his donkey and cart out several times a week to fetch clean water. Photo: Kieran Doherty/Oxfam

With more than 5,000 people per square kilometre, the besieged enclave – where, as of 3rd April, there were 12 official cases of COVID-19 – is one of the most densely populated places on the planet. Social distancing is key to keeping the virus at bay but Palestinians living under the blockade are trapped. Poor water infrastructure also means that proper hand washing is often impossible.

Residents have nowhere to go and no means of avoiding transmission. In an area where one in eight people relies on life-saving aid, the virus would do untold damage to two million vulnerable people.

A major outbreak is likely to see the collapse of Gaza’s ailing health system, which is already overrun with patients suffering from waterborne diseases. Gaza is also dependent on Israel for critical medical cases, but the threat of COVID-19 has created a level of collaboration between Palestinians and Israelis that has rarely, if ever, been seen before.

As well as the health system implications, COVID-19 could further destroy the economy of Gaza, which already has an unemployment rate of 47 percent. Small shops have shut their doors due to the crisis and business-owners have no income to pay their staff or provide for their own families. With movement restricted even more to prevent a further spread of the virus in Gaza, many families are already finding themselves unable to put food on the table.

With our humanitarian staff in Gaza bracing themselves for the worst, funding is vital to ensure that the weak economy and health system won’t completely collapse

What Oxfam is doing

With the support of Irish Aid, our teams have mobilised to urgently respond to the threat of Covid-19 in Gaza. We are providing protection equipment for healthcare workers, beds for patients in quarantine centres, soap and other essential hygiene products. We’re also providing hygiene kits to vulnerable families through our partner organisations.

Equipment arriving in Gaza
Oxfam staff receiving hygiene and protective gear items that will be distributed in quarantine centres. Photo: Sami Alhaw/Oxfam

Our water engineers are ensuring public water taps used by the most vulnerable families can be used safely. With no other source of clean water, these families are most at risk of catching the virus.

We’re helping the vulnerable families put food on the table and buy hygiene items and access clean water to protect them from the outbreak. We are currently maintaining 14 water filling points in vulnerable communities where between 35,000 and 70,000 people will need to rely on depending on the severity of the outbreak. In addition, we’re spreading awareness about best hygiene and health practices to avoid further spread of cases across the West Bank, where 148 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed.

This disease knows no borders and does not discriminate. For the world’s poorest and most vulnerable, the worst is yet to come as the coronavirus begins to establish itself and spread quickly through communities powerless to stop it, without access to water, sanitation or healthcare.
Together, we can save lives.

Oxfam teams in Tanzania and Mozambique are prepared for Cyclone Kenneth

• Oxfam teams on standby to respond to second recent devastating cyclone

• Oxfam Ireland works directly in Tanzanian districts likely to be affected

Thursday 25th April, 2019

Oxfam teams in Tanzania and Mozambique are ready for the potential impact of Cyclone Kenneth, with strong winds, heavy rains, flash flooding and storm surges expected to hit the region in the next 24 hours.

Tropical Cyclone Kenneth formed north of Madagascar on April 23rd and is expected to pass over the Comoros islands as it moves towards Mozambique and southern Tanzania, making land on April 25th. This comes in the wake of another devastating cyclone in southern Africa during March.

Oxfam Ireland Chief Executive, Jim Clarken, said: “Oxfam is ready to respond in the region and is monitoring this weather event which looks set to match the recent destruction by Cyclone Idai. We have already seen more than 700 deaths with 3 million people requiring humanitarian assistance due to Idai and Cyclone Kenneth will create similar problems on the ground.”

“Strong winds and rain have already been seen in Tanzania and people in Mozambique have been told to get to safer ground as flash and river floods are expected. It is rare that such a weather event would occur in this particular area, so we are working with the population to make sure that they are ready to protect themselves in advance.”

“Oxfam Ireland works extensively in Tanzania around economic empowerment, gender equality and gender-based violence, and this cyclone is likely to cause problems for our programmes being delivered in the Lindi and Mtwara regions. Not to mention the impact on livelihoods if damage to crops and other produce occurs,” stated Clarken.

During 2017 and 2018, Oxfam Ireland worked with thousands of people in Tanzania through projects worth €1.7 million including the provision of supplies and sanitation to refugees, supporting marginalised women to claim land rights, and income-generating enterprise development.

ENDS

CONTACT

ROI: Nyle Lennon, Oxfam Ireland: nyle.lennon@oxfam.org or +353 (0) 83 197 5107

NI: Phillip Graham, Oxfam Ireland: phillip.graham@oxfam.org or +44 (0) 7841 102535

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