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Pandemic saw billionaire bonanza while millions face cost of living crisis

Billionaires in the food and energy sectors are increasing their fortunes by $1 billion dollars every two days

Ahead of the World Economic Forum at Davos, Oxfam calls for an end to crisis profiteering

Billionaires’ wealth has risen more in the first 24 months of COVID-19 than in 23 years combined. The total wealth of the world’s billionaires is now equivalent to 13.9 percent of global GDP, up from 4.4 percent in 2000.

While billionaire wealth soars, it is expected that over a quarter of a million more people will be pushed into extreme poverty in 2022, according to a new briefing from Oxfam, Profiting from Pain. The briefing comes as the World Economic Forum — the exclusive get-together of the global elite in Davos — takes place face-to-face for the first time since COVID-19.

Jim Clarken, CEO, Oxfam Ireland said: “Billionaires arriving in Davos have seen an incredible surge in their fortunes. Simply put, the pandemic followed by the steep increases in food and energy prices have been a bonanza for them. Meanwhile, decades of progress on ending extreme poverty are now in reverse and millions of people are facing impossible rises in the cost of simply staying alive.”

The wealth of Ireland’s nine billionaires has increased by a massive €15.55 billion since the start of the pandemic, a 44 percent increase bringing it to €51 billion, while latest figures show that 691,587 people in Ireland are experiencing deprivation, of which 204,710 are children.

Globally, 573 people became new billionaires during the pandemic, at the rate of one every 30 hours. While this year, it is expected that 263 million more people will crash into extreme poverty, at a rate of a million people every 33 hours.

Oxfam’s new research also reveals that corporations in the energy, food and pharmaceutical sectors — where monopolies are especially common — are posting record-high profits, even as wages have barely budged and workers struggle with decades-high prices amid COVID-19. The fortunes of food and energy billionaires have risen by $453 billion in the last two years, equivalent to $1 billion every two days. Five of the largest energy companies are together making $2,600 profit every second, and there are now 62 new food billionaires.

In Ireland, five of the biggest Irish food companies have had a total profit rise of €174 million in just one year - in the last year of recorded profits. Meanwhile five of the best-known Irish energy companies had combined yearly profits rise of €280 million. Yearly inflation for energy products in Ireland is 43.6 percent. While food inflation in Ireland is currently at 3.5% in consumer price figures, wholesale prices are likely to push figures higher in the near future.

From Sri Lanka to Sudan, record-high global food prices are sparking social and political upheaval. 60 percent of low-income countries are on the brink of debt distress. While inflation is rising everywhere, price hikes are particularly devastating for low-wage workers whose health and livelihoods were already most vulnerable to COVID-19, particularly women, racialised and marginalised people. People in poorer countries spend more than twice as much of their income on food than those in rich countries.

Clarken continued: “It is unconscionable that some are profiteering from the pandemic and its aftermath while others are trying to choose between paying their energy bills or going hungry. Billionaires’ fortunes have not increased because they are smarter or working harder. Workers are working harder, for less pay and in worse conditions. The super-rich have rigged the global system with impunity for decades and they are now reaping the benefits. They have seized a shocking amount of the world’s wealth as a result of privatisation and monopolies, gutting regulation and workers’ rights while stashing their cash in tax havens — all with the complicity of governments.

“Meanwhile, millions of others are skipping meals, turning off the heating, falling behind on bills and wondering what they can possibly do next to survive. Across East Africa, one person is likely dying every minute from hunger. This grotesque inequality is breaking the bonds that hold us together as humanity. It is divisive, corrosive and dangerous. This is inequality that literally kills.”

“Government leaders in Davos face a choice: act as proxies for the billionaire class who plunder their economies or take bold steps to act in the interests of their great majorities.”

Oxfam recommends that governments, including Ireland’s, urgently:

  • Introduce one-off solidarity taxes on billionaires’ pandemic windfalls to fund support for people facing rising food and energy costs and a fair and sustainable recovery from COVID-19. Argentina adopted a one-off special levy dubbed the ‘millionaire’s tax’ and is now considering introducing a windfall tax on energy profits as well as a tax on undeclared assets held overseas to repay IMF debt.
  • End crisis profiteering by introducing a temporary excess profit tax of 90 percent to capture the windfall profits of big corporations across all industries. Oxfam estimated that such a tax on just 32 super-profitable multinational companies could have generated $104 billion in revenue in 2020. A windfall tax on energy companies in Ireland alone is estimated to raise €60 million.
  • Introduce permanent wealth taxes to rein in extreme wealth and monopoly power, as well as the outsized carbon emissions of the super-rich. An annual wealth tax on millionaires starting at just 2 percent, and 5 percent on billionaires, could generate $2.52 trillion a year —enough to lift 2.3 billion people out of poverty, make enough vaccines for the world, and deliver universal healthcare and social protection for everyone living in low- and lower middle-income countries. Oxfam has estimated that a 1.5% wealth tax on Irish millionaires owning above €4 million could raise €4 billion in tax revenue. A 1.5% wealth tax on Irish billionaires alone could raise a little over €0.7 billion.
  • Governments like Ireland should support the development of a Global Assets Registry to address extreme wealth that is held by oligarchs, from Russia and beyond, in financial centres including the IFSC.

Download “Profiting from Pain” here.

ENDS

CONTACT: Alice Dawson-Lyons | alice.dawsonlyons@oxfam.org | +353 83 198 1869

Notes to editors:

  • Download the methodology document outlining how Oxfam calculated the statistics in the brief here.
  • Oxfam’s calculations are based on the most up-to-date and comprehensive data sources available.
  • Figures on the very richest in society come from the Forbes billionaire list, including for Ireland.
  • Irish statistics on deprivation is taken from the CSO – Central Statistics Office
  • Figures on Irish food and energy companies are taken from The Irish Times Top 1000 Guide to Irish Business, which uses CRO data, in the Energy and Food Sections respectively.
  • The five largest energy companies globally referenced are BP, Shell, TotalEnergies, Exxon and Chevron
  • The five biggest Irish food companies referenced are Kerry Group, Glanbia, Musgrave, Ornua and Moy Park.
  • The five best-known Irish energy companies referenced are ESB, Energia, Bord Gais, SSE Airtricity and Energia Power.
  • All amounts expressed in US dollars have been adjusted for inflation using the US consumer price index.
  • The World Bank defines extreme poverty as living on less than $1.90 (€1.75) per day.
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Ten years since we said “never again”, East Africa facing catastrophic hunger

Oxfam calls for radical action as number of people facing extreme hunger across East Africa more than doubles since last year

The number of people experiencing extreme hunger across East Africa in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia has more than doubled since last year – from over 10 million to more than 23 million today. In a report published today (18.05.22), Oxfam and Save the Children highlighted the world’s repeated failure to stave off preventable disasters and called on world leaders to take urgent action to save lives.

Dangerous Delays 2: The Cost of Inaction details how more than a decade since the delayed response to the 2011 famine that killed more than 260,000 people in Somalia – half of them children under five - the world is once again failing to avert catastrophic hunger in East Africa. Today, nearly half a million people across parts of Somalia and Ethiopia are facing famine-like conditions. In Kenya, 3.5 million people are suffering extreme hunger. United Nations predictions suggest that 350,000 Somali children may die by the summer if governments and donors do not tackle this hunger crisis immediately.

Jane Meriwas, Director of Samburu Women Trust in Kenya, said: “The situation is devastating. Both human beings and livestock are at risk of dying, already children, pregnant mothers and elderly in some parts of Marsabit and Samburu Counties in Kenya are being reported as dying. If urgent intervention is not provided now, we are likely to witness even more death.”

Oxfam is urging Ireland to continue to show leadership in calling for an immediate and radical mobilisation of international aid to prevent further destitution as well as to continue to use our membership on the UN Security Council to highlight the links between conflict and hunger and the need to address its catastrophic impacts. In addition to conflict, the report identifies a number of causes to the hunger crisis including Covid-19, the climate crisis and inflationary and market pressures accelerated by the conflict in Ukraine.

Supported by the Jameel Observatory, Dangerous Delay 2 examines the changes in the humanitarian aid system since 2011. It finds that despite an improved response to the 2017 East Africa drought when widespread famine was averted, the national and global responses have largely remained too slow and too limited to prevent a repeat today.

Leadership at international level is vital as entrenched bureaucracies and self-serving political choices continue to curtail a unified global response, despite improved warning systems and efforts by local NGOs. Urgent appeals are woefully underfunded, as other crises, including the war in Ukraine, are worsening the region’s escalating hunger crisis. 

Commenting on the crisis, Jim Clarken, CEO of Oxfam Ireland, said: “Let us be clear, starvation is a political failure. The world does not lack food or money, it lacks political courage and will. More than a decade ago when famine devastated lives and livelihoods across Somalia, we said never again. And yet, despite repeated warnings for two years, governments and the international community are acting too late and with too little to prevent catastrophic hunger across East Africa.

“It may be tempting to view the reasons for this crisis – a deadly combination of extreme weather, conflict and the economic fallout of COVID-19 -  as one-off events, but all of these events demonstrate the deep fragility of the food and economic systems that millions of people rely on to survive.  As the climate crisis unfolds, shocks from extreme weather and related factors – including the interplay between climate and conflict – will increase further. Ireland has already played a vital role at the UN Security Council in highlighting the interplay between conflict, climate and hunger and this is now more important than ever. Conflict is violently spurring the hunger crisis, continuing to limit the ability of the most vulnerable to access their farms, their pastures and to travel safely to markets or access life-saving humanitarian assistance.

“Meanwhile, climate change has made the La Niña-induced drought in the Horn of Africa more severe and prolonged, now the worst in 40 years. The drought has eroded economic reserves, herd size, and human health and is a major factor behind the alarming numbers of people without enough to eat each day. This is horribly unfair when the region is one of the least responsible for the climate crisis, emitting collectively 0.1% of global carbon emissions.”

Just two percent ($93.1 million) of the current $4.4bn UN appeal for Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia has formally been funded to date. In 2017, those same countries had received $1.9 billion in emergency funding. Although donors promised $1.4 bn of aid last month, only $378 million of that was new money.

Oxfam and Save the Children are calling for urgent action to tackle this funding gap alongside a number of key asks, including:

  • To help save lives now, Western leaders and the G7 must immediately inject money to meet the $4.4 billion UN appeal for Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, and ensure the funding is flexible enough to be used where it is most needed.
  • Donors must guarantee that at least 25 per cent of funds go to local responders at the heart of response.
  • National governments must prioritise lives over politics, by acknowledging and acting on early warnings. They should be quicker to declare national emergencies, shift national resources to those most in need, and invest in response to climate related shocks.
  • Rich polluting nations must pay East Africa for its climate loss and damage. They must also cancel 2021-2022 debts for those countries, in order to free up resources to support people to mitigate and adapt to climate shocks.

ENDS

Notes to editors

  • Download the latest “Dangerous Delay 2: The Cost of Inaction.” report published 18 May 2022. 
  • A Dangerous Delay: The cost of late response to early warnings in the 2011 drought in the Horn of Africa report published in 2012 can be found here.
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Over a quarter of a billion more people could fall into extreme poverty this year

Rising global food prices alone could push 65 million more people into extreme poverty, Oxfam estimates

Over a quarter of a billion more people could fall into extreme levels of poverty in 2022, a new brief from Oxfam reveals today. This is as a result of COVID-19, rising global inequality and food price increases supercharged by the war in Ukraine. 

“First Crisis, Then Catastrophe”, published ahead of the World Bank and IMF Spring Meetings in Washington DC, shows that 860 million people could be living in extreme poverty — on less than €1.75 ($1.90) a day — by the end of this year. This is mirrored in global hunger: the number of people without enough to eat could reach 827 million in 2022.

The World Bank had projected COVID-19 and worsening inequality would add 198 million people to those facing extreme poverty during 2022, reversing two decades of progress. Based on research by the World Bank, Oxfam now estimates that rising global food prices alone will push 65 million more people into extreme poverty, bringing the total to 263 million more this year — equivalent to the populations of the UK, France, Germany and Spain combined.

Jim Clarken, CEO of Oxfam Ireland, said: “Without immediate collective action, we could be witnessing the most profound collapse of humanity into extreme poverty and suffering in memory. The triple threat of COVID-19, rising inequality and skyrocketing food prices is having a devasting impact on the world’s poorest and most vulnerable.

“As many people now struggle to cope with sharp cost-of-living increases, having to choose between eating or heating or medical bills, the likelihood of mass starvation faces millions of people already locked in severe levels of hunger and poverty across East Africa, the Sahel, Yemen and Syria. One woman from Akobo in South Sudan, told us, “This is just too much. I am tired of living”.

The brief notes that a wave of governments is nearing a debt default and being forced to slash public spending to pay creditors and import food and fuel. The world’s poorest countries are due to pay $43 billion in debt repayments in 2022, which could otherwise cover the costs of their food imports. Global food prices hit an all-time high in February, surpassing the peak crisis of 2011. Oil and gas giants are reporting record-breaking profits, with similar trends expected to play out in the food and beverage sector. 

People in poverty are being hit harder by these shocks. Rising food costs account for 17 percent of consumer spending in wealthy countries, but as much as 40 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa. Even within rich economies, inflation is super-charging inequality: in the US, the poorest 20 percent of families are spending 27 percent of their incomes on food, while the richest 20 percent spend only 7 percent.

In Ireland, we are witnessing the effects of these price shocks not only in people’s protests against fuel prices, but in a wider cost of living crisis that Social Justice Ireland has characterised as forcing people to make “unavoidable trade‐offs” in Reasonable Living Expenses (RLEs).

For most workers around the world, real-term wages continue to stagnate or even fall. The effects of COVID-19 have widened existing gender inequalities too — after suffering greater pandemic-related job losses, women are struggling to get back to work. In 2021, there were 13 million fewer women in employment compared to 2019, while men’s employment has already recovered to 2019 levels.

The report also shows that entire countries are being forced deeper into poverty. COVID-19 has stretched all governments’ coffers but the economic challenges facing developing countries are greater, having been denied equitable access to vaccines and now being forced into austerity measures.

Despite COVID-19 costs piling up and billionaire wealth rising more since COVID-19 than in the previous 14 years combined, governments — with few exceptions — have failed to increase taxes on the richest. An annual wealth tax on millionaires starting at just 2 percent, and 5 percent on billionaires, could generate $2.52 trillion a year —enough to lift 2.3 billion people out of poverty, make enough vaccines for the world, and deliver universal healthcare and social protection for everyone living in low- and lower middle-income countries.

In Ireland, Oxfam has proposed an even more modest wealth tax to the Commission on Taxation and Welfare, at rates of 1.5% and 2% levied only on net wealth held above EUR 4.3 million, which could bring in revenues of over €4 billion.

Clarken said: “We reject any notion that governments do not have the money or means to lift all people out of poverty and hunger and ensure their health and welfare. We only see the absence of economic imagination and political will to actually do so.

“Now more than ever, with such scale of human suffering and inequality laid bare and deepened by multiple global crises, that lack of will is inexcusable. The G20, World Bank and IMF must immediately cancel debts and increase aid to poorer countries, and together act to protect ordinary people from an avoidable catastrophe. The world is watching”.

Oxfam is calling for urgent action to tackle the extreme inequality crisis threatening to undermine the progress made in tackling poverty during the last quarter of a century:

  • Introduce a fair and sustainable rate of wealth tax in Ireland to fund the recovery from this economic crisis and a just transition to carbon neutrality. Argentina adopted a one-off special levy dubbed the ‘millionaire’s tax’ that has brought in around $2.4 billion to pay for pandemic recovery.
  • End crisis profiteering by introducing excess profit taxes to capture the windfall profits of big corporations across all industries. Oxfam estimated that such a tax on just 32 super-profitable multinational companies could have generated $104 billion in revenue in 2020.

  • Cancel all debt payments for developing countries that need urgent help now. Cancelling debt would free up more than $30 billion in vital funds in 2022 alone for 33 countries already in or at high risk of debt distress.

  • Boost aid and pay for Ukrainian assistance and the costs of hosting refugees with new funding, rather than shift aid funds earmarked for other crises in poorer countries.

  • Reallocate at least $100 billion in Special Drawing Rights (SDR), without burdening countries with new debt or imposing austerity measures. The G20 promised to deliver $100 billion in recycled SDRs but only $36 billion has been committed to date. A new SDR issuance should also be considered and distributed based on needs rather than countries’ quota shares at the IMF.

  • Act to protect people from rising food prices, and create a Global Fund for Social Protection to help the poorest countries provide essential income security for their populations, and maintain these services in times of severe crisis.

ENDS

CONTACT: Alice Dawson-Lyons | alice.dawsonlyons@oxfam.org | +353 83 198 1869

Notes to editors

Download Oxfam’s briefing “First Crisis, Then Catastrophe”.

Download Oxfam Ireland’s submission to the Commission on Welfare and Taxation.

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Oxfam warns of preferential EU refugee response and calls on Irish Government to ensure equal treatment for all

Friday 1st April 2022

Today, Oxfam Ireland warned that a preferential refugee response is developing across the EU, where some are met with solidarity and others with hostility. The aid agency is calling on the Irish Government to ensure that all refugees arriving in the EU and Ireland receive equal treatment in accordance with European and international law.  

The call comes after EU Home Affairs and Justice Ministers, including Minister for Justice  Helen McEntee met on Monday and issued a 10-Point Plan on stronger European coordination on welcoming people fleeing the war against Ukraine.

Oxfam welcomed the progressive steps included in the plan and are calling on the EU to extend its provisions to everyone seeking refuge in the EU.  

They are calling on the Irish Government to ensure an equal right to refuge for all by:  

  1. Providing sanctuary and protection for all those fleeing Ukraine without discrimination, and 

  2. Preventing a preferential EU refugee response where some are met with solidarity and others with hostility.  

Oxfam is advocating that additional steps need to be taken to ensure all those fleeing the violence in Ukraine can obtain refuge in the EU without discrimination. This follows reports that non-Ukrainian nationals, particularly those from Africa and the Middle East, are being pushed back at the border in what the UN has described as “racialised denial of entry”. Meanwhile, other vulnerable groups, like people with a disability, need extra supports to ensure they can avail of the protection they are entitled to. Oxfam recommends ensuring there are human rights monitors at Ukraine-EU borders so that all possible measures are taken to make sure all individuals can cross and seek refuge safely. They are also urging the Government to arrange direct travel routes to EU member states (including Ireland) free of cost so that people can flee quickly and safely, limiting the risk from trafficking, exploitation and abuse. 

Beyond Ukraine, Oxfam warns that refugees across Europe continue to suffer as a result of inhumane and illegal policies and practice. They are advocating for an end of pushbacks, which are illegal, on all EU borders and a permanent relocation mechanism for all refugees in the EU as well as an improvement of conditions in camps and reception centres, among other asks.  

The aid agency has launched an online petition calling on people across Ireland to sign it and demonstrate the public’s desire for the Government to take these actions.   

Commenting today, Jim Clarken, CEO of Oxfam Ireland, said: “We are heartened to see the unprecedented open arms response to those fleeing Ukraine in Ireland and across Europe as a result of the unfolding humanitarian crisis in the country. Such a response shows the best of us and should serve as a blueprint for how we welcome and protect all people fleeing similar situations no matter where they come from. 

“Unfortunately, this is simply not the case at the moment. We have worked with refugees in Europe since 2015, people fleeing conflict, persecution and war, arriving with nothing but the clothes on their backs and their children in their arms. For many, they were not met with solidarity – instead they suffered trauma on top of trauma, including violent pushbacks at EU borders, being denied their right to seek asylum for no good reason and left to languish in inadequate conditions in camps. The stark reality is thousands of people seeking refuge from conflicts around the world continue to die trying to cross into the EU. In 2021, nearly 3,500 people died attempting to enter the EU through land and sea borders. 

“There is a serious danger that we are developing a preferential refugee response across Europe, a two-tier system that differentiates based on which conflict you are fleeing or where you are coming from. This is not who we are – as Irish or European citizens – and it  must end. 

“We are calling on all in Government to use all channels in the EU to end this unfair and harmful stance and support equal treatment of all who are forced to claim their rights to protection under international law. And we’re asking people in Ireland to join us in this call by signing our petition.”  

Oxfam’s Equal Right to Refuge petition can be found here.  

Oxfam’s full policy brief - Equal Right to Refuge – can be found here.  

ENDS

CONTACT: Alice Dawson Lyons, Oxfam Ireland | alice.dawsonlyons@oxfam.org | +353 (0) 83 198 1869

Notes to Editors:

Full asks to the Irish Government under the Equal Right to Refuge campaign:

Oxfam Ireland calls on the Irish Government to ensure:

  1. Equal access to seek international protection for all fleeing Ukraine.
    1. No discrimination at the borders.
    2. Inclusive of persons with disabilities.
    3. EU institutions and member states coordinate and facilitate safe and orderly transfers to EU member states.
  2. The EU and Member States uphold their commitment to receive and protect refugees and displaced people from all countries and regions seeking protection in the EU without discrimination, including those arriving in other Member States and border areas, fleeing from other crises across the world.
    1. Stop practices and policies that are illegal under international law
      - Pushbacks
      - Denying the right to claim asylum
    2. Improve conditions in camps at hotspots so that they meet basic reception standards and avoid the use of de facto detention.
    3. Promote mandatory responsibility-sharing through a permanent relocation mechanism.
    4. Re-start Search and Rescue at EU’s borders and stop criminalising NGOs and others who help people stranded.
    5. Maintain resettlement pledges.
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Global food prices skyrocket due to Ukraine conflict, threatening millions already facing extreme hunger

Oxfam urges international community to respond to hunger crisis in East Africa before it’s too late

 

Tuesday 22 March 2022

 

Over 161 million people across 42 countries are currently suffering from acute hunger. Across East Africa alone, 21 million people are facing severe levels of hunger due to conflict, flooding, crop pests and a devastating two-year drought, unprecedented in 40 years. This number is set to rise to as many as 28 million if the March rains fail.

 

Today, Oxfam urged the international community to respond with a massive, “no regrets” mobilisation of humanitarian aid to prevent destitution across East Africa. With the unfolding crisis in Ukraine taking their attention, the aid agency warned that there is a real danger the international community will not respond adequately until it’s too late.

 

Jim Clarken, Chief Executive of Oxfam Ireland, said: “Areas of Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and beyond are experiencing an unfolding catastrophe. Even if the rains do arrive this month, full recovery after two years of drought will be near impossible unless there is urgent action by the international community today.

 

“While we respond to the escalating crisis in Ukraine, we must also respond to its wider repercussions on the global food system which will reverberate worldwide, hitting the poorest and most vulnerable people hardest and fastest. Rising food prices are a hammer blow to millions of people who are already suffering multiple crises and make the huge shortfall in aid potentially lethal.

 

“Ireland must act unilaterally and at UN and EU levels to ensure that the negative impact on supply, trade and price of food due to the Ukrainian conflict will not affect those already experiencing or most vulnerable to food shortages throughout the world, including across East Africa.”

 

Covid-related hikes in global food and commodity prices were already undermining the options available to heavily indebted African governments to resolve the mass hunger facing their people. However, the crisis in Ukraine will have catastrophic new consequences as it already pushes up food and commodity prices beyond what East African governments can afford.

 

Countries in East Africa import up to 90% of their wheat from Ukraine and Russia. As disruptions begin to affect the global trade in grains, oil, transport and fertiliser, food prices are beginning to skyrocket. They hit an all-time high last week. In Somalia, the prices for staple grains were more than double those of the previous year.

In 2010-11, similar spikes in food prices pushed 44 million more people worldwide into extreme poverty, and indications are that the food-price inflation happening now will be even worse.

 

Nyadang Martha, from Akobo in South Sudan, told Oxfam: “All the 40 years of my life, I have never seen anything like what is happening here in Akobo. For the past four years, it is either flood, drought, famine, violence, or COVID-19. This is just too much. I am tired of living. If it continues like this, I doubt if my girls will become full adults.”

 

Despite alarming need, the humanitarian response is woefully underfunded. Only 3% of the total $6bn UN 2022 humanitarian appeal for Ethiopia, Somalia and South Sudan, has been funded to date. Kenya has only secured 11% of its UN flash appeal to date.

 

Idris Akhdar from Wajir County, North Eastern Kenya, said: “Our team have met desperate people. People who are hungry, who are thirsty, and who are about to lose hope. In the last few days, I have seen across the region - Somali region in Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya - the same hunger and destitution all over. We appeal to the international community to help.” (Idris is part of WASDA, a Kenyan organisation partnering with Oxfam for over 20 years.)

 

Oxfam is working with local partners to redouble its support for those impacted by the East African hunger crisis, aiming to reach over 1.5 million people most in need, including many displaced, with life-saving water, cash, shelter and sanitation facilities.

 

Clarken continued: “The people of East Africa cannot wait. The hunger crisis is worsening by the day. Oxfam is calling on all donors to urgently fill the UN humanitarian appeal funding gap and to get funds as quickly as possible to local humanitarian organisations. Ireland and other EU member states should increase their allocations to the underfunded US$327million World Food Programme appeal, which aims to support around 4.5 million people affected by drought in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia with life-saving aid. We must act decisively in our trade and agriculture policies to stabilise food prices and protect the world’s most vulnerable populations from further food price shocks. And we especially call upon the governments from grain exporting countries to do all they can to find suitable alternatives to the imminent disruption in the supply chain from Ukraine.

 

“This is not a time for apathy, distraction or delay – it is a time to act and we must act now.”

 

ENDS

 

CONTACT: Alice Dawson Lyons, Oxfam Ireland | alice.dawsonlyons@oxfam.org | +353 (0) 83 198 1869

 

Notes to the editors:   

STATS ON THE EAST AFRICA HUNGER CRISIS:

  • Over 13 million people across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia have been displaced in search of water and pasture, just in the first quarter of 2022. Millions of others had to flee their farmlands and homes by conflicts especially around Ethiopia – where 9.4m people now need urgent humanitarian aid.
  • The region has suffered from the worst plague of locusts in 70 years and flash flooding that have affected nearly a million people in South Sudan.
  • Kenya has suffered a 70 percent drop in crop production and has declared a national disaster with 3.1m people in acute hunger, now in need of aid. Nearly half of all households in Kenya are having to borrow food or buy it on credit.
  • Ethiopia is facing its highest level of food insecurity since 2016, in Somali region alone 3.5m people experience critical water and food shortage. Almost a million livestock animals have died, leaving pastoralists who entirely depend on herding for survival with nothing. Women tell us heart-breaking stories about having to skip meals so that they can feed their children.
  • More than 671,000 people have recently migrated away from their homes in Somalia because nearly 90% of the country is in severe drought. This will likely leave almost half of Somali children under five acutely malnourished.
  • In South Sudan, an estimated 8.3 million people will face severe food insecurity this lean season (May-July) as climatic and economic shocks intensify.

OXFAM RESPONSE IN EAST AFRICA:

  •  In South Sudan: Oxfam has provided support to over 400,000 people and aims to reach and additional 240,000 people with safe water, sanitation and hygiene services and promotion, cash grants for families to buy food and other essentials, and livelihood support like seeds, tools, fishing kits.
  • In Somalia, Oxfam aims to reach 420,000 people this year with lifesaving water, sanitation and health support, including drilling boreholes in water insecure areas, distributing hygiene kits, providing materials to help protect communities from water borne diseases, and distributing cash, seeds tools, and training farmers in small scale greenhouse farming. Oxfam will also support livestock treatment and vaccination campaigns together with the Ministry of Livestock, train community protection volunteers on gender-based violence issues, and distribute solar lamps to protect women and girls at night. To date we have reached over 260,000 people.
  • In Kenya, Oxfam is currently supporting 40,000 people and planning to expand the support to approximately 240,000 people with cash transfers for food and other essential items and water, sanitation and hygiene activities such as repairing water points and boreholes to provide access to clean, safe water and hygiene promotion campaigns.
  • In Ethiopia, Oxfam has supported 170,000 people in Northern Ethiopia with lifesaving clean water, food, and cash assistance, particularly in conflict affected areas in South Tigray, Central Tigray, Amhara and Afar. Oxfam aims to reach an additional 750,000 women, men and children in Northern Ethiopia with emergency food packages, livelihoods assistance, clean water, sanitation and hygiene kits and protection until March 2023. Together with our partners, we are also scaling up response in the Somali Region to respond to the effects of the drought.
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