OXFAM MEDIA ADVISORY – COVID-19, 22 April 2020

OXFAM MEDIA ADVISORY – COVID-19, 22 April 2020

Oxfam spokespeople are available for comment or interview on the following topics:

COVID-19 and its impact on the world’s poorest

Oxfam and partners are on the ground in more than 65 countries, monitoring, preparing for and responding to the deadly threat of COVID-19 among the millions of vulnerable people we work with.

Without adequate health and hygiene infrastructure, the coronavirus has the potential to devastate developing countries and would be catastrophic for people living in cramped and overcrowded refugee camps, in the middle of ongoing conflict or through extreme weather events like drought or cyclones.

Oxfam’s expertise is in water, sanitation, and hygiene programmes as well as public health promotion – is critical to stop the spread of deadly disease and keep communities safe and healthy. We are working closely with local partners organisations to deliver clean water and safe sanitation (i.e. toilets and showers) to at risk communities, alongside other essential aid and healthcare equipment.  

Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh:

The sprawling refugee settlement in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh is the largest in the world, home to almost one million Rohingya refugees and severely overcrowded with 40,000 people per square kilometre. Our staff on the ground are now preparing for a monsoon season which has the potential to decimate already inadequate water and sanitation facilities, while washing dirty and dangerous water through the camp, latrines and homes.

Malnutrition and diseases like dysentery, cholera and typhoid are already rampant in Cox’s Bazar, undermining the health of these communities. There is also very limited access to basic health services, let alone more specialised care.

The UN consider communities and refugees in Cox’s Bazar among the most at risk globally in this pandemic. There are currently 3,382 cases of COVID-19 in Bangladesh.

Yemen:

More than half of the population of Yemen do not have enough to eat, which is feeding chronic malnutrition rates and disease. Communities are in the grips of a cholera outbreak – with more than 56,000 suspected cases recorded in the first seven weeks of this year alone.

Efforts to beat cholera are massively undermined by the war, which has decimated the country’s health, water, and sanitation systems. Medical supplies are in chronically short supply and only 50 per cent of health centres are functioning. There are severe shortages of medicines, equipment, and staff. Around 17 million people – more than half the population – have no access to clean water. Oxfam is providing clean water, sanitation, and food in Yemen, alongside other essential aid.

The first case of COVID-19 in Yemen was confirmed on 10th April 2020.

Gaza Strip:

In Gaza, there are more than 5,000 people per square kilometre and fewer than 70 Intensive Care Unit beds and 62 ventilators for a population of two million. The Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated areas of the world. Good public health as a strategy to counter the spread of infectious disease has already been undermined by the Israeli blockade.

Oxfam Ireland’s COVID-19 response, supported by Irish Aid, is now underway. The process of procuring and delivering supplies is in motion and Oxfam teams are deploying preventative measures to protect the lives of the near two million Gazans trapped in the Strip.

12 confirmed cases of COVID-19 recorded in Gaza as of 22nd April 2020.

COVID-19 and inequality – Oxfam’s Dignity not Destitution report

The economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic could push half a billion more people into poverty unless urgent action is taken to bail out developing countries. Oxfam’s new report Dignity Not Destitution presents fresh analysis which suggests between six and eight per cent of the global population could be forced into poverty as governments shut down entire economies to manage the spread of the virus. This could set back the fight against poverty by a decade, and as much as 30 years in some places such as Africa.

We’re calling for an ‘Emergency Rescue Package for All’ which would enable poor countries to provide cash grants to those who have lost their income and to bail out vulnerable small businesses. It would be paid for through a variety of measures including:

  • The immediate cancellation of US$1 trillion worth of developing country debt payments in 2020.  
  • The creation of at least US$1 trillion in new international reserves, known as Special Drawing Rights, to dramatically increase the funds available to countries.

Read the full press release and report.

Sustainable fashion

The impact of COVID-19 on garment workers in Bangladesh

Bangladesh accounts for 5 per cent of global garment production with four million people working in textile factories. The majority of those people (80 per cent) are women, 9 of 10 of whom live in poverty and struggle to survive, earning approximately €3-€4 per 60-hour day.

Due to COVID-19, more than one million garment workers in Bangladesh have been fired or temporarily laid off because of big brands cancelling orders or failing to pay for order cancellations. 80 per cent of dismissed workers were sent home without severance while 72 per cent of temporarily laid off workers were sent home without pay.

Oxfam works with female garment workers in Bangladesh to call for a living wage and decent working conditions. We’re continuing to call on brands to ensure the safety and protection of garment workers during the COVID-19 crisis and to transform the fragile foundation on which the fashion industry is built.

Support your local Oxfam shop – even if it’s closed!

As people across the country use lockdown as a chance to declutter their wardrobes, drawers, bookcases and beyond, it might be tempting to dump the boxes and bags piling up as a result – but we’re calling on people to save their unwanted items and donate them to their local Oxfam shop as soon as we-reopen our doors. That way we are reducing the amount of clothes and textiles that will end up in landfill and helping to save the planet and its people.

Our shops are proud to be part of the solution to ‘throwaway fashion’ but they also play an invaluable role in raising much-needed funds for our work worldwide, something more important now than ever.

ENDS

CONTACT:

To arrange a comment or interview or for more information or images etc., please contact:

Caroline Reid | caroline.reid@oxfam.org | +353 (0) 87 912 3165
Alice Dawson-Lyons | alice.dawsonlyons@oxfam.org | +353 (0) 83 198 1869

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