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Rohingya crisis: Support Fashion Relief and make a difference

Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh

There's more to Fashion Relief than bagging a bargain or spotting your favourite celeb - it can make a real difference to families bearing the brunt of war and climate change.

Shoppers at next month's events in Galway and Dublin will be supporting the world's most vulnerable communities - they include thousands of Rohingya people forced to flee Myanmar when conflict broke out in 2017. Around 700,000 people fled to neighbouring Bangladesh, settling in Cox's Bazar. With 1 million people now calling it home, it is the world's largest refugee camp.

Lorraine Keane recently visited Bangladesh to see Oxfam's work on the ground for herself. So far, we've distributed vital aid including clean water and food to 360,000 people in Cox's Bazar.

Fashion Relief at Cox's Bazar | Oxfam Ireland

We’re helping people stay healthy by installing water points, toilets and showers, and distributing soap and other essentials. We’ve recruited more than 600 Rohingya volunteers to help us reach others with hygiene information, we’ve built the biggest-ever sewage plant in a refugee camp on site and our solar-powered water network delivers safe water to families.

Oxfam staff hears Rohingya refugee opinions on new latrines
The women’s social architecture latrine user group talks to Iffat (Oxfam Senior Innovation Officer in Public Health Promotion & Community Engagement) about their first experiences using the latrine and bathing facilities. Photo: Salahuddin Ahmed

We've also provided 25,000 refugee households with vouchers that can be exchanged at local markets for fresh vegetables and ingredients. We’ve hired over 1,800 Bangladeshi locals to work on construction projects including road repairs, schools and water sources and provided almost 400 people with grants to start or expand their small businesses.

new Oxfam food voucher system for refugees
An efficient new e-voucher system enables refugees to make their purchase by simply scanning a card pre-charged with credit. Photo: Maruf Hasan/Oxfam

To help women feel safer after dark, we’ve installed more than 350 solar-powered streetlights around the camp and provided 20,000 torches and portable solar lanterns. We’ve also worked with women refugees to design more secure toilets and supplied them with fabric and vouchers so they can make or order clothes they feel more comfortable wearing in public.

Oxfam bought light to parts of Cox's Bazar
Oxfam has brought light to parts of the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh. Photo: Maruf Hasan/Oxfam

Sustainability in action

Fashion Relief is a key part of our work to increase sustainability across the fashion industry and support fair pay for garment workers. According to the UN, the textile industry generates more emissions than the aviation and shipping industries combined!

That's no surprise when 225,000 tonnes of clothes end up in landfill in Ireland each year. That's 225,000 tonnes of clothes not getting a second chance at life.

On top of that, cheap production and plummeting prices means the items we buy often end up in landfill before they should, while garment workers survive on low wages and more often than not experience poor working conditions [Source: Irish Tech News].

Join us on a journey to a more sustainable lifestyle, starting with the clothes you wear. We're proud to be a solution to "throwaway fashion" by reducing the amount of clothes and textiles that end up in landfill and giving pre-loved clothes a longer life. We also work with retailers, encouraging them to donate their end-of-line or excess stock to us instead of sending it to landfill. That's a more sustainable solution for people and planet!

Get ready for Fashion Relief 2020: Sustainable fashion extravaganza

Attend in style, Get your tickets today

Fashion Relief is back, offering you a unique opportunity to bag a bargain from the wardrobe of your favourite style icon or brand, boutique or designer, all while raising crucial funds for Oxfam's work worldwide.

Don't want to wait in long agonizing queues away from the buzz of fun and fashion? Then get your gal pals together and skip the queues on the day by grabbing your tickets now!

HINT: The earlier you get inside, the more amazing bargains you could find!

Fashion Relief 2020 Galway and Dublin | Oxfam Ireland

When & Where

The Galmont Hotel, Galway – 1 March

RDS Dublin, Dublin 4 – 28 & 29 March

Who & Why

You! You’ll grab unbelievable bargains on the latest styles and trends while helping raise vital funds for communities at the sharp end of climate emergencies and major conflict in places like Yemen, Ethiopia and Bangladesh.

Join Lorraine Keane and other big stars showcasing rail after rail of premium pre-loved clothes and accessories starting at just €5, with donations from the stars and the public as well as brand-new items from high street designers and retailers across the island.

HINT: Don’t miss the free fashion show and fashion advice and styling tips from leading Irish stylists and social influencers on the day!

Lorraine Keane invites you to join her!

“We’re so excited to bring Fashion Relief back to fashion-savvy shoppers in Galway and Dublin this year. Over the last few weeks, items have been pouring in from a host of amazing designers, retailers and the public, as well as of course, celebrities and influencers.  

“This year, we have a particular focus on sustainability and we’re inviting people to join us on a journey to a more sustainable lifestyle, starting with the clothes we wear. We’re proud to be a solution to ‘throwaway fashion’ by reducing the amount of clothes and textiles that end up in landfill and giving pre-loved clothes a second lease of life.

“In December, I visited the world’s largest refugee settlement in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, home to almost one million Rohingya refugees who fled unimaginable violence in Myanmar. While safe from the conflict that took the lives of many of their loved ones, they now face new threats and challenges in their makeshift home.  

“I saw first-hand the devasting impact the climate crisis is having on people affected by poverty and disaster right now. Cox’s Bazar is extremely vulnerable to rising sea levels and extreme weather events like cyclones and monsoons - and when you live in a flimsy shelter made of tarpaulin and bamboo that is particularly catastrophic. The Oxfam staff in the camp told me how during storms and flash flooding, homes and even little children are at risk of being washed away.  

“The are many reasons to join me at Fashion Relief in Galway and Dublin, but the most important is that we’ll be raising crucial funds for Oxfam’s work in places like Bangladesh where they are providing life-saving support like shelter, food, water and safe sanitation. Get your ticket today.”

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Fashion Relief: Lorraine Keane shines a light on the Rohingya crisis

Next month, throngs of people will descend on Galway and Dublin for our third annual Fashion Relief events. Some will be there for the day out, others to bag a bargain. Yet whatever their reason for attending, everyone will be doing their bit for vulnerable people experiencing climate change, conflict and hunger.

More than 700,000 people fled Myanmar when violence broke out in 2017, pushing the number of refugees in Bangladesh to almost 1 million. They arrived in the country suffering from both physical and psychological injuries, traumatised by the atrocities they had witnessed as they fled.

cox's bazar rohingya refugee camp
Views of the refugee camps in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Photo: Abbie Trayler-Smith/Oxfam

Lorraine Keane recently travelled to Bangladesh to see how the funds raised are helping those who need it most. Among those she met was Rohingya refugee and mother-of-four Naila, whose husband was shot as they fled their home in Myanmar.

Naila, who was pregnant with her fifth child at the time, also witnessed her 14-year-old son being killed before the family escaped across the border. Like countless others, Naila and her children ended up in Cox’s Bazar – the world’s largest refugee camp.

rohingya refugee at her shelter
Naila at her shelter in Cox's Bazar. Photo: Jeannie O'Brien

Diseases spread quickly through the flimsy shelters in the overcrowded camps of Cox’s Bazar, where the population density is four times the UN’s recommended levels. Respiratory infections, diarrhoea and malaria are rife, with children particularly vulnerable.

influencer trip to refugee crisis
Lorraine Keane at Kutupalong Camp, Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Photo: Jeannie O'Brien

Meanwhile, more than a third of women say they don't feel safe going to collect water or using toilets and showers. As a result, they go to the toilet less or end up going to the toilet inside their tents, putting themselves at risk of disease.

Worryingly, there are also reports of women and girls being forced into sex to earn money to survive, and adolescent girls marrying due to their parents’ inability to feed them.

What Oxfam is doing to help the Rohingya people

We’re providing vital aid including clean water and food to Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar. So far, we’ve helped 360,000 people in Bangladesh, while we’re also supporting 100,000 Rohingya in Myanmar with clean water and sanitation services.

In addition, we’re helping people stay healthy by installing water points, toilets and showers, and distributing soap and other essentials. We’ve recruited more than 600 Rohingya volunteers to help us reach other refugees with hygiene information, we’ve built the biggest-ever sewage plant in a refugee camp on site and our solar-powered water network provides safe water more effectively.

Meanwhile, we’ve provided 25,000 refugee households with vouchers that can be exchanged at local markets for fresh vegetables and ingredients. We’ve hired over 1,800 Bangladeshi locals to work on local construction projects including road repairs, schools and water sources and provided almost 400 local people with grants to start or expand their small businesses.

To help women feel safer after dark, we’ve installed more than 350 solar-powered streetlights around the camp and provided 20,000 torches and portable solar lanterns. We’ve also worked with women refugees to design more secure toilets and supplied them with fabric and vouchers so they can make or order clothes they feel more comfortable wearing in public.

Fashion Relief at Cox's Bazar | Oxfam Ireland

Increase our aid budget, create a better world

The current Government has committed to spending 0.7 percent of national income on overseas development assistance (ODA) by 2030. Now, in the run-up to General Election 2020, we are calling on the new government to reach this target five years earlier.

Reaching this target sooner rather than later is vital if Ireland wants to maintain its positive reputation as a member of the global donor community and deliver on the ambition of the State’s ODA plan A Better World.

man and young son walk through floodwaters after cyclone
Tawab with his son, two year old Calado*, after carrying him through floodwaters in Mozambique after a devastating cyclone. *Name changed to protect identity. Photo: Tommy Trenchard/Oxfam

In Budget 2020, €837 million was pledged to development aid – an increase of some €21 million on the previous budget. The 2020 funding represented around 0.41 percent of national income (Gross National Income, or GNI, is an improved measure of domestic economic activity), leaving Ireland a long way off its target.

Any increase in development aid should be accompanied by a roadmap and timelines setting out the annual increases to reach the 0.7 percent figure. As well as quantity, the quality of aid is key, and Ireland has been recognised on the international stage as a donor that provides effective aid to tackle poverty and reduce vulnerability.

 

We are asking the next government to:

  • Increase our development aid budget to 0.7% of national income by 2025
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Protect refugees, keep families together

At an EU level, Ireland has been complicit in a failed migration system which prioritises border security over the needs of vulnerable people. While the numbers crossing the Mediterranean have dropped significantly since the peak in 2015, the situation for many refugees and migrants arriving in Europe has got worse. We have seen first-hand the devastation caused by Europe’s flawed migration policies – and instead want to present positive, alternative solutions.

Rohingya refugee Asia Bibi* cuddling daughter Nur*, 5, (left) and son Anwar*, 8, (right), who has jaundice, in their shelter in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. *Name changed to protect identity. Photo: Abbie Trayler-Smith/ Oxfam

Cooperation with such as Turkey and Libya on migration issues must be based on respect for human rights and international law; promote inclusive, accountable and transparent processes; and work for the benefit of displaced people, migrants, and communities in host and destination countries.

To address these issues, the next government needs to:

  • Support shared responsibility for hosting refugees equally throughout the EU under a proposed new Dublin system.
  • Support the implementation of EU asylum system that is safe, fair and effective and that provides access to basic services to all asylum seekers.
  • Support EU and NGO search-and-rescue operations with the sole objective of saving lives.
  • Only support partner countries’ security systems when it contributes to achieving peace and stability, inclusive and sustainable development, state-building and democracy, rule of law and protection of human rights.
  • Address the specific needs of refugee and migrant women and girls and promote their role as leaders for positive and inclusive change.

In 2018, Oxfam Ireland produced a report A Family Belongs Together which detailed the human consequences of the Irish Government’s policy on refugee family reunification, namely the impact on refugee families and on their ability to integrate into Irish society. The report shows that family separation has a destabilising effect on refugees living in Ireland and contributes to deteriorating mental health and wellbeing.

When families are reunited, the presence of relatives can help speed up integration – not just for the new arrivals, but family members already living in Ireland. A family provides nurturing and coping strategies and helps to anchor a loved one in a new place.

The Irish Government’s current policy on refugee family reunification is too restrictive and only allows a very narrow group of family members to apply to be reunited. Oxfam is calling on the next government to:

· Amend the International Protection Act (2015) to expand the definition of family to include young adults who are dependent on the family unit prior to flight; parents; siblings; in-laws, and any other dependent relative.

 · Introduce legal aid for people seeking refugee family reunion through increased funding to the Legal Aid Board by the Department of Justice.

 · Waive the income requirements for those who have received international protection who apply for family reunification.

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