Press Releases

As he meets UN Sec Gen & addresses Assembly, Minister Coveney must prioritise Ireland’s role in international affairs

Monday, September 18th, 2017

Obligations on refugees and development aid must be met

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney’s attendance at the UN this week is the ideal opportunity to reaffirm Ireland’s role in world affairs and to stress Ireland’s commitment to meeting targets on issues like refugees and overseas development aid, Oxfam Ireland has said.

Throughout the week, Minister Coveney will address the General Assembly, meet with the Secretary General, Antonio Guterres; attend a meeting on reform hosted by Donald Trump and hold discussions with foreign ministers from around the world.

Jim Clarken, Oxfam Ireland’s Chief Executive, said: “This week is a huge opportunity for Ireland to reassert its commitment to tackling some of the most pressing issues which affect our country and the world. Global problems are now local problems – issues such as conflict, poverty, migration and gender equality impact on us all.

“Ireland has a proud tradition of multilateral engagement. As a country, we have made our mark through peace keeping operations and our generous response to humanitarian crises. Minister Coveney must use this week to outline some of the specific measures Ireland will progress in areas such as development aid and our role in the ongoing refugee response.

“Despite the welcome recent announcement that Ireland will take 600 refugees next year, which includes an additional 330, overall, our response to refugees has been disappointing. Back in 2015 the Irish Government promised to accept 4,000 people by the end of this year, so far and with just over three months to go, less than a third – just 1,300 – have arrived.

“Our progress in meeting the accepted target of spending 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) on overseas development aid has been extremely slow. For instance, last year, we allocated just 0.33% to this sector. While we strongly welcome the commitment made by An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar to meet this spending pledge we need to see a clear roadmap and targeted deadlines.

“Over 1.3 billion people worldwide live in extreme poverty, and more than 795 million people – one in nine people globally – do not have enough to eat. Despite significant progress being made since the year 2000, we must continue to work together if we are to be the generation that eradicates extreme poverty for good.”

This week, the UN General Assembly marks one year since the international community, including Ireland, adopted the Declaration for Refugees and Migrants which reaffirmed the responsibility of all nations to refugees and laid out a two-year deadline for countries to save lives, protect rights and share responsibility for the existing crisis.

Over 65.6 million people have been forced to flee their homes due to conflict, persecution and disaster, the highest number ever recorded, and there are now over 22.5 million refugees worldwide, more than half of whom are children.

Oxfam is on the ground in nine out of the 10 main countries of origin for refugees in the world including Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as in neighbouring host countries like Lebanon and Jordan, along with supporting those who have reached Europe in Greece, Italy, Macedonia and Serbia.

ENDS

Interviews available with Oxfam staff in Dublin and New York.

CONTACT: Daniel English

Desk: +353 (0) 1 635 0422

Mobile: +353 (0) 86 3544954

Still no real progress one year after landmark UN refugees pledge, says Oxfam

One year on from the historic United Nations summit for refugees and migrants, the international community has failed to make meaningful progress towards meeting the goals of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, Oxfam said today. 

The Declaration, first adopted last September, reaffirmed the responsibility of all nations to refugees, and laid out a two-year deadline for countries to develop and agree on a “global compact” that would make these commitments a reality. But 12 months on, there has been no improvement in refugee crises around the world. 

There has been little sign that the countries which agreed the New York Declaration are acting in line with their commitments, and there has been no end to discriminatory and xenophobic migration-related laws and practices in many parts of the world. Unfortunately, this lack of progress at the halfway point has experts worried that this valuable opportunity is being squandered and that an effective solution will not be agreed upon in 2018.

Jim Clarken, Oxfam Ireland’s Chief Executive, said: “More than 65 million people around the world have been forced from their homes because of dangers beyond their control. They are trapped in limbo or risking their lives in search of safety while world leaders stall and delay. All governments, but particularly those of rich nations like the UK and Ireland, should deliver the global solution they have promised.”

Oxfam urges countries to realise the ambitious agenda put forward in the Declaration quickly and in particular to work together transparently in delivering a concrete mechanism for sharing responsibility for refugees by the 2018 deadline.  

Crucially, the mechanism should establish each country’s responsibility for hosting, protecting, and caring for refugees. Poorer countries like Uganda and Lebanon are still bearing the brunt of the crisis, hosting almost 90 percent of displaced people around the world according to Oxfam’s last analysis. Less than one in 10 of the world’s refugees lives in the six richest countries – the US, China, Japan, Germany, France and the UK. The British government should follow Germany and Turkey’s lead in calling for a system that shares responsibility more fairly.

Mr Clarken said: “While the UK has been a generous donor to other nations that are hosting millions of refugees, this does not excuse it from its responsibility to open its doors to the most vulnerable people who have been forced from their homes. One simple and compassionate way it can do this is to change the rules so more refugees can reunite with their family in safety in the UK.”

Oxfam has warned against increased hostility towards refugees and more violent conflicts forcing people to flee.

·         More than a million refugees from South Sudan have arrived in Uganda – 80 percent of them arriving in the last year – yet world leaders have contributed less than a quarter of the $2 billion the country is seeking for humanitarian and development needs.

·         More than 2,400 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean so far this year.

·         Hundreds of thousands of people have fled to Bangladesh to escape violence in Myanmar with no obvious solution in sight.

·         The Syrian conflict rages unabated – millions displaced by the war continue to live without sufficient support or protection. 

“It is scandalous that we are still so far from a comprehensive plan to share responsibility for the refugee crisis while poorer countries continue to pick up the pieces. Wealthy nations are turning a blind eye and leaving others to clean up the mess,” said Clarken.

Oxfam and Amnesty International are bringing the novel and unique ‘Museum Without A Home’ to New York for the UN General Assembly – and Oxfam Ireland will also be launching it for Culture Night Belfast on Friday September 22nd. The award-winning exhibition will see the Ulster University foyer transform into a “museum”, showcasing real objects that Greek women, men, and children donated to refugees in Greece, to help make the difficulties of daily life more manageable.

For more information about Oxfam Ireland’s campaign in support of refugees, visit: www.oxfamireland.org/getinvolved/righttorefuge

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS:

Spokespeople are available for interview in New York, Dublin and London.

For interviews or more information, contact:

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

Posted In:

Oxfam to help over 200,000 Rohingya in Bangladesh

September 15th, 2017

Oxfam is now providing clean water, sanitation and tarpaulins for shelter to Rohingya people who have fled to Bangladesh.

Nearly 370,000 people crossed into Bangladesh in the last four weeks, doubling the number of people seeking refuge in the south east of the country.

The existing camps in Bangladesh are ill-equipped to handle the huge numbers of people. People need shelter, clean water, toilets and food urgently. Women, children, older people and those with disabilities are especially vulnerable. Oxfam’s initially plans to help 200,000 people.

M B Akhter, Interim Country Director, Oxfam in Bangladesh, said: “People face a desperate situation. They have no clean drinking water and no food. They are homeless and hungry following a long and treacherous journey across the border. Many are now sleeping under open skies, by roadsides and in forests, with no protection.

“People are physically and emotionally traumatized.”

Notes to editors

Bangladesh has hosted 400,000 Rohingyas since the 1990s. The continuing influx has doubled the number of refugees in the South-Eastern Districts of Cox's Bazar and Bandarban districts.

ENDS

To arrange interview call, Daniel English, Oxfam Ireland, 086 3544954

Haiti and Dominican Republic face the aftermath of Hurricane Irma

People in the Dominican Republic and Haiti are facing the aftermath of Hurricane Irma which caused widespread damage overnight. Oxfam teams will immediately assess the needs of the most vulnerable people in the heaviest-hit areas, mainly in the north of both countries.

Overnight, Oxfam's Regional Communications Coordinator Tania Escamilla – who weathered the storm in Haiti’s second city, Cap Haitien – said: “We believe the worst of the hurricane has passed and people here hope to have escaped the worst.”

Oxfam teams reported heavy rain and flooding in Ouanaminthe district and in Fort Liberte city at the Dominican Republic border, and a broken bridge at the Massacre River which links the country with Haiti. Thousands of houses have been damaged in the Dominican Republic and people displaced.

Escamilla continued: “Our main concern remains how much damage Irma’s rains and flooding have caused to sanitation and water infrastructure. We’ve heard that there is flooding up to a metre high in poor neighbourhoods here in Haiti.

“Many people didn’t evacuate their homes so there is still a risk from the rain. We are seeing a lot of trash and waste out in the flooded streets in Cap Haitien which is exactly the type of condition that heightens the risk of cholera and other deadly diseases.”

Oxfam teams in Cap Haitien, Ouanaminthe and Gonaive, in the northern part of the country, have stock ready to go to prevent the spread of cholera. 

Irma is now moving north and will severely impact Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas. Oxfam is continuing to monitor the progress of Hurricane Jose closely following behind, which threatens even more damage, including to islands already wrecked by Irma.

A third hurricane – Katia – is forming to threaten Veracruz in Mexico. Oxfam is also prepared to assess and respond there with essential supplies and emergency aid.

ENDS

CONTACT: Spokespeople are available for interview. To arrange an interview or for more information, please contact:

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Alice Dawson on 00353 (0) 83 198 1869 / alice.dawson@oxfamireland.org

NORTHERN IRELAND: Phillip Graham on 0044 (0) 7841 102535 / phillip.graham@oxfamireland.org

 

Oxfam responds to the urgent needs of people fleeing conflict to Bangladesh

Friday 8th September 2017

Statement by Lan Mercado, Oxfam in Asia’s Regional Director:

“Oxfam is deeply concerned about the plight of more than 160,000 civilians who have crossed the border into Bangladesh, and countless others caught up in the conflict in Rakhine State, Myanmar resulting in a large-scale humanitarian crisis.  Every day, thousands of people are taking the dangerous journey across the border, and due to access restrictions in northern Rakhine, it is unknown how many more are missing or trapped.

“Women, children, older people and persons with disabilities are among those taking shelter in the two South-Eastern districts of Cox’s Bazaar and the Bandarban. They are facing extreme difficulties with many living without protection and under open skies. They have little or no access to clean drinking water, food supplies, sanitation facilities, and other basic needs. A significant number were wounded while crossing the border, are physically and emotionally traumatised, and are in urgent need of life-saving humanitarian assistance.

“In Myanmar, humanitarian operations in Rakhine State have been severely disrupted through administrative restrictions, security constraints, and heightened tensions. While ongoing humanitarian operations for displaced people in Central Rakhine are now resuming, humanitarian access for people affected by conflict in northern Rakhine is severely restricted.

“In Bangladesh, Oxfam has started to respond to the immediate needs of the people fleeing conflict by working with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).  We are providing containers for clean drinking water, portable toilets and sanitation facilities, plastic sheets, and other essential Non-Food Items (NFIs). 

“Oxfam calls on all authorities to guarantee humanitarian access to all civilians and ensure their protection from ongoing conflict. There is an urgent need to scale up humanitarian assistance for the people.

“We recognise the efforts of the Bangladesh government in providing access for the people fleeing the conflict in Myanmar and responding to the urgent humanitarians needs.  We urge the Bangladesh government to extend free and unimpeded access to all humanitarian agencies willing and able to deliver essential life-saving assistance to Cox' Bazaar and Bandarban districts. 

“In Myanmar, Oxfam is ready to provide life-saving relief to people, and we call on the authorities to guarantee the safety and security of humanitarian workers and for an immediate cessation of violence and conflict.

“We also underline that special attention must be paid to the needs of women and girls. The protection, privacy, health, and hygiene needs of women, girls and nursing mothers must be met and measures must be taken to prevent any form of sexual or gender based violence.” 

ENDS

CONTACT:

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND:          Alice Dawson on 00353 (0) 83 198 1869 / alice.dawson@oxfamireland.org

NORTHERN IRELAND: Phillip Graham on 0044 (0) 7841 102535 / phillip.graham@oxfamireland.org

Pages