Press Releases

‘Crisis on top of crisis’ as Bangladesh battles Covid-19 and braces for super Cyclone Amphan - Oxfam

One million Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar face double threat as coronavirus cases rise daily

Cyclone Amphan, the strongest ever cyclone recorded over the Bay of Bengal, is expected to hit Bangladesh and north-east India tomorrow (Wednesday 20th May), threatening millions of people in vulnerable communities already affected by Covid-19 outbreaks and lockdown.

Millions of people are being evacuated in India and 12,000 shelters have been prepared in Bangladesh to house nearly five million people in the expected path of the cyclone. Camps in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, home to almost a million Rohingya refugees, are also likely to be hit and are especially vulnerable given the cramped conditions and an increasing number of coronavirus cases. Over 250 people share one tap in Cox Bazar’s sprawling refugee settlement and when heavy rainfall brings floods, dirty water runs through the camp, often through latrines and the makeshift tents bringing increased risk of infection.

Oxfam, working with partners, is preparing life-saving assistance, including clean water, sanitation, food, shelter and safety equipment for people in the cyclone’s path.

Dipankar Datta, Country Director for Oxfam Bangladesh said: “It is already a huge challenge to contain the spread of coronavirus amongst the Rohingya refugees living in over-crowded camps, sharing water and toilet facilities. Cyclone Amphan is also a major threat to the millions of vulnerable Bangladeshis living in low-lying flood prone coastal areas.” 

Without assistance, people will not only be at risk of water-borne diseases and other infections rampant during extreme weather, but also coronavirus, with their immunity compromised. Between Bangladesh and India, there are nearly 130,000 reported cases of Covid-19, including an increasing number of cases in Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar.

In Bangladesh, there are fears that up 1.4 million people may be displaced due to the cyclone and 600,000 homes could be destroyed. Oxfam is working with partner organisations to help evacuate people to cyclone shelters, provide safe drinking water and dry food. To prevent the spread of coronavirus, it is distributing masks, providing handwashing facilities and helping disinfect cyclone shelters.

In the low-lying coastal areas, Oxfam is also preparing de-salination plants to provide safe drinking water because when the areas flood the salty water is undrinkable.

Parul Begum is a community leader in a small vulnerable coastal village in Bangladesh and supported by Oxfam partner, Society for Development Initiatives. She said that people are more concerned about coronavirus than going to the shelters for safety: “This cyclone is one of the most powerful ones we have faced so far but people are really worried about how they will maintain social distancing in the cyclone shelters. We do not go to the shelters alone but also take our cattle with us. People are unsure about the hygiene and safety arrangements. Also, the cyclone shelters do not have adequate facilities for expectant and lactating mothers or sufficient privacy for women and girls.”

Oxfam Ireland is appealing to the public to support Rohingya refugees in Cox's Bazar who are now facing the double deadly threat of Covid-19 alongside the fast-approaching super Cyclone Amphan.

To find out more about Oxfam’s Coronavirus Emergency Appeal visit oxfamireland.org/covid  

 

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

Alice Dawson-Lyons / alice.dawsonlyons@oxfam.org / +353 (0) 83 198 1869

Notes to editors: 

  • In Bangladesh, Oxfam is providing water and sanitation and increasing hygiene awareness to 173,000 people in the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox's Bazar and 9,000 people in the surrounding community. It also helping almost 400,000 people in the coastal districts. 
  • Oxfam India is working across 14 states to help five million people with hygiene training and over one million people with food during the coronavirus lockdown migration. 
  •  VNR available of Cox’s Bazar – footage shot Sunday 17 and Monday 18 May 2020. Contains interviews with a female Rohingya refugee and Moury Rahman, Oxfam’s Senior Public Health Promotion in the camp as well as B roll of camp, people handwashing, social distancing, wearing masks
  • More footage and photographs from Cox’s Bazar will be available from Wednesday. 

 

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Cyclone threatens Rohingya refugees as first Covid-19 cases are confirmed in Cox’s Bazar, warns Oxfam Ireland

Rohingya refugees in worlds largest refugee camp face cyclone threat as first cases of COVID-19 are confirmed

Almost one million Rohingya people in the world’s largest refugee camp are facing the added threat of a cyclone this weekend just as the first cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in the camp, Oxfam Ireland warned today.

The cyclone, which looks likely to form off the coast over the weekend, could bring further suffering and destruction to the camps on top of a potentially devastating health crisis.

Dipankar Datta, Oxfam Bangladesh Country Director said: “Our worst fears have been confirmed as the virus has hit overcrowded camps where many people are suffering from pre-existing health conditions.

“With 40,000 people crammed into each square kilometer of the camp maintaining social distance is impossible. People share water and toilet facilities making it extremely challenging to maintain the strict  hygiene needed.  If a serious outbreak is to be avoided more prevention and containment measures must be rapidly put in place.”

If the cyclone hits, the contamination of water sources caused by heavy rains and flooding could lead to a spike in illnesses. And any weakening of people’s immune systems will likely leave them even more vulnerable to the virus.

Oxfam are driving rapid responses to COVID-19 -  increasing the delivery of clean water, handwashing facilities, and hygiene materials like soap. They are also working to ensure access to food, getting cash to the hands of those most in need and, with networks of Community Volunteers, they are disseminating information about hygiene awareness and COVID-19.

Datta said: “Every effort is being made to keep the people safe, but there are huge gaps. We need more funds to immediately ramp up hygiene, health, and protection facilities to save lives. All governments and international agencies must step in to make sure no one is left behind.

Jim Clarken, Chief Executive of Oxfam Ireland said: “While nations around the world are understandably focused on containing the spread of the pandemic among their people, it is crucial that the international community does not turn its back on vulnerable populations.

“Our priority is to support people in higher-risk environments such as refugee camps. The urgency for ramping up lifesaving protection measures in Cox’s Bazar just doubled. The looming cyclone has the potential to unleash devastating destruction just as the first cases of COVID-19 have been detected in the camps.”

Oxfam Ireland is appealing to the public to support Rohingya refugees in Cox's Bazar who are now facing the double threat of Covid-19 amidst monsoon season, and now a possible cyclone fast-approaching.

To find out more about Oxfam’s urgent appeal visit: Click here

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Contact

Caroline Reid | caroline.reid@oxfam.org | +353 (0) 87 912 3165

Alice Dawson-Lyons | alice.dawsonlyons@oxfam.org | +353 (0) 83 198 1869

Spokespeople available for interview upon request | Visual content available for use – images available upon request

Short video: Click here

Note for the Editor

  • There are now roughly 19,000 confirmed cases in Bangladesh– and likely many more due to limited testing capacity.
  • Cyclone Weather Alert | Indian Express
  • A COVID-19 Hygiene Kit costs just €75/£65 but is a lifeline for Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar and vulnerable communities all over the world. Hygiene kits provide essentials like soap, water purification tablets, and a jerrycan

What Oxfam is doing: Oxfam is providing vital aid including clean water and food to Rohingya people in Bangladesh and Myanmar. So far, it has helped more than a quarter of a million (360,000) people in Bangladesh and continues to support 105,000 Rohingya and other Muslim minorities living in camps in Myanmar with clean water and sanitation services.

In Bangladesh:

  • Oxfam has 207 staff in Cox’s Bazar – of whom 184 (90%) are Bangladeshi (as of August 2019).
  • Last week, Oxfam installed an innovative new contactless hand washing station designed with community input to reduce the risks of Covid-19 transmission. In the coming weeks teams will install more facilities.
  • Oxfam is helping people stay healthy by installing water points, toilets and showers, and distributing soap and other essentials like sanitary cloths. Oxfam has recruited more than 600 Rohingya volunteers to help reach 165,000 other refugees with information about safe hygiene.
  • Oxfam opened the biggest-ever sewage plant in a refugee camp, funded by UNHCR, which can process the waste of 100,000 people safely on site. Oxfam has designed a solar-powered water network to distribute safe chlorinated water more effectively to refugees.
  • Oxfam employed over 1,800 Bangladeshi locals on community construction projects including repairs to roads, schools and water sources. Almost 400 local people received grants to start or expand their small businesses.
  • Oxfam has installed more than 350 solar-powered street lights around the camp and provided 20,000 torches and portable solar lanterns so that refugees – especially women – feel safer leaving their shelters after dark to reach water points and toilets.

Dignity not Destitution Report – Why COVID-19 response needs an economic rescue package for all

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Vaccinating poorest half of humanity against coronavirus could cost less than four month’s big pharma profits, says Oxfam Ireland

Vaccinating 3.7 billion people - the poorest half of humanity - against coronavirus could cost less than the ten biggest pharmaceutical companies make in four months, Oxfam said today.

Oxfam is urging governments and pharmaceutical companies to guarantee that vaccines, tests, and treatments will be patent-free and equitably distributed to all nations and people, ahead of the World Health Assembly next week. Health ministers from 194 countries will attend the virtual meeting on Monday 18 May.

The Gates Foundation has estimated that the cost of procuring and delivering a safe and effective vaccine to the world’s poorest people is $25 billion. Last year the top ten pharmaceutical companies made $89 billion in profits – an average of just under $30 billion every four months.

Oxfam warned that rich countries and huge pharmaceutical companies – driven by national or private interests – could prevent or delay the vaccine from reaching vulnerable people, especially those living in developing countries.

The EU has proposed the voluntary pooling of patents for coronavirus vaccines, treatments, and tests in their draft resolution for the World Health Assembly. If made mandatory and worldwide, this would ensure that all countries could produce, or import low cost versions, of any available vaccines, treatments, and tests.

However, leaked documents reveal that the Trump administration is trying to delete references to pooled patents and insert strong language on respecting the patents of the pharmaceutical industry. This would give pharmaceutical companies exclusive rights to produce, and set prices for, any vaccines, treatments and tests they develop – even if taxpayer money has been used to fund their research and development.

Jim Clarken, Chief Executive of Oxfam Ireland said: “Providing a vaccine to 3.7 billion people could cost less than what the ten biggest pharmaceutical companies make in four months. Anything less than guaranteeing that a vaccine is made available free of charge to all people is unacceptable – this is a global pandemic, which demands global responses and solidarity.  

“Vaccines, tests and treatments should be distributed according to need, not auctioned off to the highest bidder. We need safe, patent-free vaccines, treatments and tests that can be mass produced worldwide, and a clear and fair plan for how they will be distributed.

“Once vaccines or treatments are developed, there is also a high risk that rich and powerful governments will outbid poorer nations and force their way to the front of the queue, as they did in the scramble for other essential medical supplies such as personal protective equipment and oxygen.”

"Many poor countries are unable to access essential vaccines and medicines due to patent rules which give pharmaceutical companies monopoly rights and the power to set prices well above what they can afford.

“Delivering an affordable vaccine for everyone will require unprecedented global cooperation. Governments must rip up the rulebook and prioritise the health of people everywhere, over the patents and profits of pharmaceutical corporations. Governments must ensure that no one is left behind.”

Oxfam is proposing a four-point global plan that calls for:

  1. Mandatory sharing of all coronavirus related knowledge, data and intellectual property, and a commitment to make all public funding conditional on treatments or vaccines being made patent-free and accessible to all.
  2. A commitment to deliver additional global vaccine manufacturing and distribution capacity with funding from rich country governments. This means building factories in countries willing to share and investing now in the millions of additional health workers needed to deliver prevention, treatment, and care both now and in the future.
  3. A globally agreed, equitable distribution plan with a locked-in fairness formula so that supply is based on need, not ability to pay. Vaccines, treatments, and tests should be produced and supplied at the lowest cost possible to governments and agencies, ideally no more than $2 a dose for a vaccine, and provided free at the point of delivery to everyone that needs it.
  4. A commitment to fix the broken system for the research and development of new medicines. The current system puts pharmaceutical profit above the health of people across the world meaning many needed put unprofitable medicines never get developed, and those that do are too often priced out of reach for the poorest countries and people.

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Contact

Caroline Reid | caroline.reid@oxfam.org | +353 (0) 87 912 3165

Alice Dawson-Lyons | alice.dawsonlyons@oxfam.org | +353 (0) 83 198 1869

Notes to editor

A background briefing paper is available on request

The Gates Foundation estimated the cost of producing and distributing a vaccine and have confirmed that this cost relates to the production and distribution in low and lower middle income countries only.

The 2019 profits for the top ten pharmaceutical companies can be found here

The Gilead monopoly decision can be found here, future Gilead cost of remdesivir here and remdesivir potential cost per patient here

Oxfam believes that vaccines should ideally be produced and supplied for no more than $2 per dose. This is a reasonable challenge to set given that new complex vaccines for big killers like pneumonia are already available for this price.

Pneumonia is the biggest killer of children under the age of five, with 2,000 children dying every day. For over a decade, millions of children have not had access to patented pneumonia vaccines manufactured by Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline due to its high cost. After years of campaigning by Médecins San Frontieres, both companies reduced their prices in 2016, but only for the very poorest countries, leaving millions of children still without access to their vaccine.

In March, drug manufacturer Gilead moved to extend the monopoly on a potential treatment for the virus, and only withdrew it after a public outcry. Gilead has now donated a significant portion of its current supply of remdesivir to the US government, but news reports suggest the company could make significant profits from subsequent production. Some Wall Street analysts expect Gilead to charge more than $4,000 per patient for the drug, even though the cost of remdesivir can be as low as $9 per patient.

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Efforts to forge a global ceasefire a “catastrophic failure”, says Oxfam Ireland

  • $1.9 trillion in military spending would have paid for UN COVID-19 appeal 280 times over

  • Despite moves to support global ceasefire, international arms sales continue

In its new report “Conflict in the time of Coronavirus”, Oxfam today showed that acts of aggression and fighting by parties across many conflict-torn countries continues unabated. This is compounded by a diplomatic failure at the UN Security Council, years of weak investment into peace-building efforts, and arms continuing to flow into conflict zones.

Jim Clarken, Chief Executive of Oxfam Ireland said: “As Ireland aspires to a seat on the UN Security Council, now is the time to show leadership in calling for peace. Support for a ceasefire now needs to move beyond rhetoric and into practice.

“There has been a catastrophic failure by the international community to forge a global ceasefire in order for countries in conflict – and the world at large – to stop the coronavirus spreading in some of the most fragile places on earth.

“We expect leadership from the Council as well the countries who say they support a ceasefire, but who nevertheless remain active participants in conflicts around the world, conducting military operations, selling arms and supporting third parties.

“In the last year alone, the international community topped $1.9 trillion in military spending. This would have paid for the UN’s coronavirus appeal 280 times over.”

On Friday 8 May, the US finally refused to vote on a UN resolution for a global ceasefire. Oxfam says that this was merely the latest of a litany of failures that are sustaining conflicts at a time when peace and international cooperation is needed.

Ongoing conflict jeopardises the health of entire communities. At the precise moment in history when the need for international cooperation has never been greater, two billion people living in fragile and conflict-affected states are now at increased risk from this global pandemic. People who are already trapped in areas where health systems are crippled and hospitals bombed, or who have been forced to flee in their millions to overcrowded camps where conditions are a perfect breeding ground for the virus.

A Yemeni woman peace activist and Oxfam partner in Aden said: “I fear that the ceasefire will take place after the Covid-19 virus will spread, so what would be the benefit of peace to a land without a people?”

Gansonré Fatimata, in Kaya, Burkina Faso, said: “Since the onset of Covid-19, everything has been blocked. We can no longer go out, we can no longer regroup; we have stopped our small activities.  Life has become harder, I'm scared. There is a double fear, insecurity, and the virus itself. Before Covid-19, we struggled to find something to eat, now it’s worse”.

Some of the cases outlined in Oxfam’s report include:

  • In the Central African Republic, the UN has just announced suspension of its humanitarian response in the areas where armed groups have broken the ceasefire amid a surge of violence, in spite of the UN’s peace appeal, and 14 armed groups signing a peace agreement with the government on February 2019. 
  • In Myanmar, the army has rejected domestic and international calls for a comprehensive ceasefire as fighting in Rakhine state increased, with frequent airstrikes and shelling in populated areas. Across Rakhine, hundreds of thousands of people are displaced, often living in overcrowded shelters with extremely limited access to health care. Close to one million people are cut off from the internet when information about the virus is lifesaving.
  • Saudi Arabia announced a two-week unilateral ceasefire in Yemen from 9 April and later extended it a month but fighting continues by all sides in the conflict. Barely half of Yemen’s health facilities are still working and there have been over 100,000 suspected cases of cholera this year.
  • In Colombia, the rebel ELN have declared a ceasefire but other armed groups and the government has not. 
  • In Afghanistan, the intra-Afghan peace negotiations scheduled in March have been delayed and the Taliban is refusing a ceasefire without the government reciprocating.
  • In Burkina Faso, on-going violence means that people are often unable to access essentials such as water, healthcare, and food.  Restrictions put in place to prevent the transmission of the virus has made it even more of a challenge.
  • In South Sudan, some peace building funding has been paused by donors, who are prioritizing the coronavirus response above all else.

Clarken went on to say: “Decades of conflict have devastated the health systems and economies of war-torn countries, leaving two billion people vulnerable to diseases like the coronavirus. We all know that containing and managing this virus is hard enough when a country is at peace, so fuelling conflict on top of a pandemic is reprehensible.

“Arms exporting countries must stop feeding conflict and instead make every effort to pressure warring parties to agree to a global ceasefire and invest in peace efforts that can bring a meaningful end to conflict.”

Clarken concluded: “To citizens around the world – demand that your political leaders deliver on the global ceasefire, in solidarity with people across the world and for a more peaceful and sustainable future for us all.”

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Contact Information

Caroline Reid | caroline.reid@oxfam.org | +353 (0) 87 912 3165

Alice Dawson-Lyons | alice.dawsonlyons@oxfam.org | +353 (0) 83 198 1869

 

Notes to Editors

Full Report: Conflict in the Times of Coronavirus

Against the backdrop of the coronavirus:

o   The UK’s BAE systems flew a cargo plane to Saudi Arabia in late April.

o   Russia has advance orders for heavy tracked tanks which were tested in Syria.

o   France continues to fuel the war in Yemen by selling arms to Saudi Arabia.

o   Germany authorised the sale of a submarine to Egypt in April.

o   Last month Canada lifted its suspension on arms exports to Saudi Arabia.

  • Oxfam is scaling up its programmes to help 14 million people in nearly 50 countries across the globe to fight the virus. Focusing on some of the hardest-hit conflict zones, including Yemen, DRC and Burkina Faso, Oxfam is providing hygiene and clean water, health awareness, support to hospitals as well as cash to families displaced by the conflict to buy food and basic necessities.
  • Flight tracking data shows a Bae Systems 737 cargo plane flew from that company’s factory at Warton in the UK to King Fahd airbase in Saudi Arabia via a UK military airbase in Akrotiri, Cyprus on 23 April. Saudi Arabia has led a coalition of nations backing the internationally recognised government in Yemen in its war with the Houthis for over five years.
  • The Canadian government has renegotiated a controversial multibillion-dollar contract that will see an Ontario-based company sell light armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia.
  • It’s been widely reported that the German government authorised the delivery of a range of military equipment by manufacturer Thyssen Krupp on 1 April, including a submarine to Egypt which has been involved in the naval blockade of Yemen as part of the Saudi coalition.
  • The Russian Minister of Industry and Trade said in mid-April that its T-14 tank had been tested in Syria.
  • The current UN appeal to respond to the Coronavirus is $6.7bn according to the UN.  Two billion people are living in conflict affected states according to UN Global Humanitarian Overview 2019.
  • France arms sales to the conflict in Yemen have not stopped
  • Oxfam’s life-saving assistance, including the country’s biggest water-distribution network outside of Bangui in the Central African Republic, could be halted due to the surge of violence and the UN stopping of operations.
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Global pandemic further exposes plight of precarious workers, says Oxfam Ireland

  • International Workers Day: Billions of workers face uncertain future

  • Global inequality must be tackled head-on in post-COVID-19 world

On International Worker’s Day, Oxfam Ireland are calling on governments worldwide to mobilise to levels never seen before to support poorer countries with their COVID-19 response and prevent global economic collapse.

COVID-19 lockdowns have had a huge impact on workers across the globe. 1.25 billion workers from sectors in decline such as restaurants and retail (which employ millions of often low paid and low skilled workers) and the 1.6 billion workers in the informal economy have been the worst hit.  As governments around the globe begin to lift restrictions, millions of poor and desperate workers are at increased risk of exploitation as they search for work.

Ahead of International Workers Day, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) released its latest data on the labour market impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. It reveals the devastating impact on workers in the informal economy and on hundreds of millions of businesses the world over - warning that “1.6 billion workers in the informal economy – that is nearly half of the global workforce – stand in immediate danger of having their livelihoods destroyed”.

Jim Clarken, Chief Executive of Oxfam Ireland said: “Across the world, millions of workers are being sent home as businesses close and supply lines dry up as a result of COVID-19. Informal work accounts for 90 per cent of employment in low-income countries - where women make up 92 per cent of workers in the informal sector and are far more likely not to have any employment rights or protections. The sad reality is, women are more at risk during this pandemic and this risk can be both physical and economic.

“Even in the richest countries, workers cannot afford to take time off. Taxi drivers, whether in Chicago or Kenya, have no choice but to go to work if they want to feed their families.

“Hotel cleaners, street sweepers, delivery drivers, waiters, retail assistants, agricultural workers and street sellers do not have the luxury of being able to work from home – and many informal workers now hold up our world.”

The ILO has called for urgent measures to support workers and businesses globally – with a focus on small businesses and people in the informal economy. There is an urgent need to protect the most vulnerable and ensure their rights are upheld.

Oxfam Ireland welcomes the ILO’s call for economic reactivation, which includes a job-rich approach, stronger employment policies and protections, and better resourced social protection systems – investment in universal services such as health and education is also vital to rebuild.

Oxfam’s recent report – Dignity not Destitution - calls for an ‘Emergency Rescue Package for All’, that meets the scale of the crisis, mobilising at least US$2.5 trillion dollars to tackle the pandemic. It prioritises helping people directly, including by providing cash grants to those who have lost their income and to bail out vulnerable small businesses. Debt cancellation for poorer countries will be critical in achieving an effective and sustainable recovery globally. This must be done in ways that radically reduce inequality and lay the foundations for a more human economy.

Clarken concluded: “The choices being made now and in the coming months will have profound implications for our collective future. They can lay the foundations for a more equal and sustainable world, or they can accelerate and perpetuate the inequalities and injustices this crisis has made all the more evident. For the world’s poorest and most vulnerable, it’s vital we choose the former.”

ENDS


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

Notes to the Editor:

• Jim Clarken is available for interview

• Download: Dignity not Destitution report

Case Study

Workers rights: How Dhaka’s Garment Workers are some of the hardest hit

83 per cent of Bangladesh’s total exports are ready-made garments, accounting for five per cent of the global garment trade - and with an available, young, and cheap workforce Bangladesh is an attractive and competitive option for large western fashion brands.

“Brands and buyers are getting richer while we live in a cycle of poverty and our lives are stagnant. I hope things get better in the future…”

~ Labonie Akter lives in a Dhaka slum with her sister. Her husband is a rickshaw puller and lives in their original village with her son. Her son was four when she left and he is now 10.

83 per cent of Bangladesh’s total exports are ready-made garments, accounting for five per cent of the global garment trade - and with an available, young, and cheap workforce Bangladesh is an attractive and competitive option for large western fashion brands.

There is an estimated four million garment workers in Bangladesh - 80% of whom are women. Nine in 10 people working in this industry live in poverty earning an average salary of €24 a week or €4 a day, with some earning as little as €3 a day.

Much like other capital cities across the world, rents are high. Workers tend to share their living space – often a single room - with up to five other people. As COVID-19 infiltrates our towns and cities, this type of cohabitation now poses new challenges in containing spread and maintaining physical distance.

The Covid-19 pandemic has devastated the global garment supply chains, resulting in over one million garment workers being fired or furloughed in Bangladesh. All parties are feeling the impact of Covid-19, however not all parties are equal. Factories operate on paper-thin margins and have far less access to capital than their customers, and workers very rarely earn enough to accumulate any savings. Due to order cancellation or postponement by big brands, workers have been told to return home with no money.

“Death from Coronavirus is a maybe, but death from not earning is certain”.

It is worth noting that three of the richest men in the fashion industry are worth over 100 billion dollars while the women at the bottom of the supply chain are paid a pittance.

Oxfam have a Living Wage campaign for women’s economic empowerment. Working with partners, including the Bangladesh Centre for Workers Solidarity and the Bangladesh Institute for Labour Studies, they work for decent employment, safe workplaces, a living wage and social protection. Most workers earn 8,300 Taka (€90) per year, but need 16,000 Taka for a living wage - which would cover basic needs such as food, health care, education, clothing and transport.

International pressure is helping and the government set up a special task force on wages. However, big brands should use their influence to ensure collective bargaining is respected and should invest a portion of their profits in improving the industry. Currently, two per cent of the retail price of a typical garment goes to the women who make them - less than one per cent of the production cost would do the right thing if brands absorbed it. We want brands to commit to a living wage and publish a timetable for a transparent supply chain. Big brands have a responsibility for ensuring workers rights.

 

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