Press Releases

Ireland Undermined Efforts to Achieve Global Vaccine Equity

PRESS RELEASE – 08 March 2023

Oxfam Ireland today called for our global response to COVID-19 to be included in the upcoming State inquiry into COVID 19. This on foot of a report showing how Ireland undermined international efforts to make vaccines available to low-income countries.

This runs contrary to the government’s claims that they were a very strong supporter of global vaccine equity.

“This is far from a matter of historical interest,” said Oxfam Ireland’s Head of Policy and Advocacy (and report co-author), Michael McCarthy Flynn. “Future pandemics are a certainty, and we have to learn from past mistakes and do better for all our sakes.”

The report, “Everyone for Themselves - How Ireland Undermined Efforts to Fully Vaccinate the World against COVID-19” was launched in the Oireachtas today. The timing is a week after the Irish negotiators[i] return from Geneva, where the WHO pandemic treaty negotiations have so far failed to produce concrete commitments and enforceable measures for vaccine sharing in future.

Oxfam’s detailed analysis of Irish government actions during the pandemic is under three key main headings.

  1. The failure to support the TRIPS[ii]  waiver, against advice from the WHO, over 100 countries, two Irish parliamentary committees and the Seanad. The government’s position instead aligned with the pharmaceutical industry’s interests and stance. The report contains an analysis of the lobbying records from the pharmaceutical industry.
  2. Their preferred option was vaccine donations, and this was problematic. For one, the hoarding of more vaccines than was needed limiting access to low-income countries. Oxfam’s analysis also found donations were 20% short with 12% of vaccines close to expiry[iii]. In addition, we did not supply the most effective vaccines for the recipient countries[iv].
  3. They failed to provide adequate funding to strengthen health care systems in poorer countries to aid distribution of vaccines.

Overall, the WHO, World Health Organization, calculated that Ireland provided just 6% of our “fair share” of funding to support the response to COVID-19 globally.

“Happily, the worst effects of COVID are behind us in Ireland but we have to remember that over 6,000 people are still dying every week from COVID 19 . In low-income countries, just 23% of people are fully vaccinated. The cost of COVID continues to be enormous. It is estimated that it pushed 163 million people into poverty and set global development back by at least a decade,” said Michael McCarthy Flynn of Oxfam Ireland.

“Our report shows Ireland actively contributed to a human rights violation and we’re calling today for the government to turn this appalling record around with a set of recommendations. The most immediate of which is that Ireland’s global response should be included in the upcoming State inquiry into COVID 19,” said Michael McCarthy Flynn.


Contact: Clare Cronin - External Communications Manager Email:   Mobile +353 (0) 87 195 2551

Alice Dawson Lyons - Head of Communications and Campaigns - Oxfam Ireland Email: Mobile: +353 (0) 83 198 1869


  1. On 1 December 2021, the World Health Assembly passed a resolution to set up a process for the WHO Member States to negotiate a new legal instrument (often called a ‘pandemic treaty’).
    The International Negotiating Body (INB) tasked with drafting the treaty, has achieved a zero draft. See People’s Vaccine Alliance comments on the zero draft here.
    During the fourth INB sessions, (27th February to 3rd March 2023) Member States planned to translate general themes into concrete commitments and practical mechanisms.
    Officials in the Department of Health working with Ireland's Permanent Representation to the UN in Geneva, are engaging with the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body.
  2. TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) is a World Trade Organisation Agreement that protects intellectual property, including patents on medicines produced by pharmaceutical companies.
  3. The above figures are correct as of Nov. 2022.
  4. See footnote 13 in the Report.

Oxfam is part of the People’s Vaccine Alliance, a movement advocating that COVID-19 vaccines are manufactured rapidly and at scale, as global common goods, free of intellectual property protections and made available to all people, in all countries, free of charge.

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Aid is dwindling in spite of continuing dire conditions one month after the earthquakes in Türkiye

PRESS RELEASE – 06 March 2023

One month on from the earthquakes that struck Türkiye that killed over 45,000 people and destroyed hundreds of thousands of buildings and major infrastructure, aid and donations for survivors has sharply declined in spite of continuing urgent needs.

Hundreds of thousands of families are residing in informal settlements to stay close to homes that have been destroyed, where there is little to no access to water and basic sanitation, shelter, and food. Women and children are affected disproportionately, with many fearing for their safety. Oxfam spoke with one woman who delivered a baby in a tent and had not received any medical support 10 days after giving birth.

In an area with a population of 15.2 million, almost 2 million people have evacuated from earthquake affected areas with government support or through their own means, straining the local economy and available safe housing across the country. Those who remain have no recourse but to stay outside, fearing returning indoors due to continuing aftershocks that continue to damage homes and infrastructure. The areas affected by the earthqueks in Türkiye include a large Syrian refugee population, who have already endured displacement.

Oxfam KEDV in Türkiye is coordinating with a network of grassroots women’s organisations and cooperatives, volunteers, civil society actors, and public authorities to rapidly provide food, clean water, showers, hygiene products, and blankets, and to facilitate setting up shelters. With Oxfam KEDV, women’s cooperatives are operating community kitchens and providing food to people everyday. Oxfam KEDV is also initiating the repair of water reservoirs to ensure access to clean water and the setting up of toilets and showers.

In the coming months, Oxfam KEDV intends to support 1.4 million people living in the areas most affected by the earthquake by providing access to food, restoring water systems, and supporting people’s livelihoods through training and financial support.


Clare Cronin, +353871952551

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Cox's Bazar camp fire: Oxfam responding with food and shelter

PRESS RELEASE – 06 March 2023

A fire that swept through Rohingya refugee camps of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, on Sunday has left 12000 people homeless and in urgent need of shelter, water, sanitation, and medical services. Oxfam is mounting a response to provide immediate food and shelter to impacted people.  

“In a matter of hours, thousands of bamboo and tarpaulin shelters were destroyed along with few primary health centres, local schools, and community spaces. Thousands of families were forced to spend the night under the open sky, many without any food or water,” said Ashish Damle, Oxfam Country Director in Bangladesh.

The fire started on Sunday afternoon around 2:45 pm local time in camp 11 and quickly spread to adjacent camps. While no casualties were reported, the full extent of the damage is being assessed.

“This is the second major fire that hit Rohingya camps since 2021. It took years of relief efforts to bring a semblance of normalcy to the lives of people after the first fire. To the Rohingya refugees this is a déjà vu of loss and suffering,” added Damle.   

Oxfam team is working closely with partners on the ground, assessing people’s needs; and preparing to provide most affected people with immediate food, shelter, water, and sanitation.  

Oxfam International is collaborating with community leaders, local authorities, and other partners on the ground to conduct long-term needs assessments for those affected.   


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Oxfam Ireland call for the Irish Govt to implement climate accountability legislation as a ground-breaking litigation case proceeds in France against BNP Paribas

PRESS RELEASE – 23 February 2023

This is the world's first climate lawsuit against a commercial bank.

Three NGOs, including Oxfam, have this morning (Thursday 23rd Feb) filed a lawsuit at the Paris Judicial Court against BNP Paribas. The bank has a presence in the IFSC in Dublin. It is described as “France’s most polluting bank” based on the following:

BNP Paribas,

  • has a larger carbon footprint than all of France’s territorial emissions.
  • is the leading European financier and 5th worldwide of fossil fuel expansion, between 2016 and 2021.
  • is the world's leading financier of the 8 oil and gas majors, including Total Energies, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, ENI, Repsol and Equinor, between 2016 and 2021.
  • 1st financier of the British oil and gas giant BP worldwide.
  • 1st financier of the Dutch oil and gas giant Shell worldwide.
  • 1st financier of the Italian oil and gas giant ENI worldwide.

This landmark French legal case is based on “the duty of vigilance”, a new French law against the impunity of multinational corporations.

Oxfam Ireland’s CEO, Jim Clarken said, “We urgently need the legal basis to take the same sorts of action here in Ireland.” The first step in this process is the EU Corporate Sustainability Directive (CSDDD) which has the ability to massively reduce global carbon emissions and other abuses in global value chains. The BNP Paribas case shows what a pivotal role financial institutions can play for better or worse. Late last year, it was widely reported that Ireland sought a carve-out for financial investors at the EU Council under the draft EU law – something which would have been disastrous for the new EU law’s effectiveness in reducing global carbon emissions.

As a founding member of the Irish Coalition for Business and Human Rights, Oxfam Ireland has led the call for strong Irish legislation on business and human rights, including climate obligations. We call on all Irish MEPs to see that this EU legislation is robust on all of our climate obligations. We believe financial institutions must play their part and be accountable.

The next step will be to pass binding and effective Irish along the French lines that would apply to companies operating in Ireland. We expect to see legislation tabled in the Oireachtas on this issue very soon which must be robust, wide-ranging and binding.


Contact: Clare Cronin, +353871952551

External Communications Manager

Oxfam Ireland

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EARTHQUAKE: Oxfam and partners aim to reach nearly 2 million affected people in Turkiye and Syria

PRESS RELEASE – 13 February 2023

Oxfam, together with our partners in Turkiye (Turkey) and Syria, is working to reach nearly 2 million people – 10 percent of the population affected by the quake – with aid and support so that they can rebuild their lives.  

Meryem Aslan, Oxfam Spokeswoman in Turkiye said, “People are living in cars, mosques, in tents or huddling around fires in freezing conditions. Emergency shelters are overwhelmed and over-crowded. Many people do not want to stay in the area with hundreds of thousands having been evacuated out of the region.”

In Turkiye, Oxfam KEDV is working closely with dozens of grassroot women-led organisations and cooperatives to reach up to 1.5 million people over the first three years. Our teams have already provided food, shelter, blankets and psychological support to some of most affected areas including Gaziantep, Hatay and Mardin.

“Our teams are experienced, having responded to the 1999 earthquake, but we are facing new hurdles getting aid to those who need it.  We are dealing with destroyed roads, nearly 300 aftershocks and an unprecedented scale of devastation. The sheer number of fatalities is heart-breaking. Topping the list of items needed are body bags to bury the dead. In some areas, communication is also limited which is hampering aid distribution,” added Aslan. 

The earthquake has impacted over 13 million people in Turkiye - one in every six people. Over 12,000 buildings have been destroyed and many more are threatening to crumble. 

Ali, a father of four from Gaziantep, told us, "We were shaking and we were so scared. I thought this was my last day. When I looked at the walls, I felt like they were moving towards me."

He added, "It was such a bitter day. I hope we never experience this ever again." 

In Hatay, a city affected by the earthquake, only three hospitals remain standing. It is imagined that the earthquake response will take a year in Turkiye, but the after-effects will be felt for many more years to come.

In Syria, the earthquake has caused over 3500 deaths with many more injured. 

Abdelkader Dabbagh, Aleppo Area Manager for Oxfam in Syria said, “The earthquake has shattered an already conflict-torn country. People do not have a roof over their heads and are stuck in freezing temperatures with no idea where they could get their next meal. Our team is working with other humanitarian organisations to get clean drinking water and hygiene packs to survivors.”

We already started providing safe drinking water to people in Aleppo. We have also supported safety checks to 220 buildings and begun fixing water taps and toilets for over 1000 of the most impacted people. Over the next six months, Oxfam aims to reach more than 300,000 survivors.

Moutaz Adham, Oxfam in Syria Country Director, said, “This is nothing new for Syrians who have lived and are still living the horrors of over twelve years of conflict. To make matters worse, we are still facing an uphill battle due to years of chronic underfunding, skyrocketing inflation, and scarce supplies of fuel.”

Oxfam calls on the international community to meet the urgent needs of those affected by the earthquake in Turkiye and Syria, and to facilitate aid delivery to both countries along with a longer-term plan to support the survivors in the recovery efforts.

Notes to editors

Spokespeople are available for interview in Turkiye and Syria. 

B-roll and images are available upon request.

Oxfam KEDV was founded in 1986 and became an Oxfam affiliate in 2019. Previous to the earthquake, Oxfam KEDV was working with 78 grassroot women organisations and cooperatives in the affected areas and 600 throughout Turkey. We will work with these partners in our humanitarian response to the earthquake. 

Oxfam KEDV is also a member to the National Disaster Response Platform, a network formed in 2020 representing 27 national civil CSOs, which coordinates disaster and emergency responses in Turkiye. All NGOs registered with this platform must register with the Acik Acik Association which is responsible for ensuring the transparency and accountability of NGOS. 

In Syria, Oxfam has been on the scene since 2013. We get clean water to people affected by the conflict. We distributed cash and food. We also work with people to rebuild their lives including supporting farmers to start farming again through trainings and distribution of seeds and animal fodder as well as repairing irrigation systems.


Contact Information

Clare Cronin External Communications Manager Email:   Mobile 353+87+1952551

Alice Dawson Lyons | Head of Communications and Campaigns | Oxfam Ireland Email: Mobile: +353 (0) 83 198 1869

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