Press Releases

New Government must tackle global inequalities made worse by COVID-19

Oxfam calls for ambitious and collective action at home and overseas to address poverty, hunger and the climate crisis

 

The next Irish Government must prioritise tackling the glaring global inequalities that COVID-19 has further exposed and ending the injustices driving poverty, hunger and the climate crisis, Oxfam Ireland said today on the launch of its programme for government briefing.

In Responding to New Global Realities: An Agenda for the new Irish Government and Oireachtas, Oxfam laid out an ambitious call for decisive and collective action to create a fairer and more sustainable world that leaves no-one behind, highlighting how the COVID-19 pandemic has proved our global interconnectedness and that things can be done differently.

As Ireland eases restrictions and begins to plan for the future, Oxfam warned that for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable the devastating impact of COVID-19 will continue long after the threat of the virus is gone. Responding to New Global Realities calls for leadership at an international level to address the economic fallout of COVID-19 that could push half a billion more people into poverty and decimate already inadequate social protection infrastructure and essential services like healthcare

Oxfam’s agenda outlines action needed by the next Irish Government across three main points:

  1. Resource Poor Countries' development needs in a changed world
  2. support system change in healthcare, food production and protection of the vulnerable
  3. build a more sustainable and just world

Jim Clarken, Chief Executive of Oxfam Ireland, said: “Even in times of crisis, our leaders must not lose sight of their duty to uphold human rights and environmental protection. In many ways this pandemic is a dress rehearsal for the climate emergency. COVID-19 may well seem like a more imminent threat to our lives – but if we do not start to take serious action to address the climate crisis it will quickly pose as great and imminent a threat to our existence – as it already does for many of the communities we work with.

“There has never been a more important time to stand with the world’s poorest and most vulnerable. As we look to the future with hope, they brace themselves for the worst yet to come. Countries across the world are experiencing a major economic hit as governments shut down economies to prevent the spread of the disease. Those who rely on informal work have said this pandemic threatens to starve them before it makes them sick. Women and girls stand to be the hardest hit as they’re at the forefront of the informal work sector as well as on the frontlines of the healthcare profession and caring roles.

“This crisis also risks food value chains, causing immediate concerns for food security in developing countries with the UN warning of famines of “biblical proportions”. Protecting food security and implementing policies and support programmes that promote agricultural development must be supported, while taking into account the challenges of climate breakdown.

“Ireland has made a strong contribution to the international response to COVID-19 – in particular to the UN’s Global Humanitarian Response Plan, as well ongoing humanitarian support through Irish Aid. However, the scale and complexity of this crisis is unprecedented. We must seize this moment to repair the systems that made so many people vulnerable in the first place. This means putting equality at the centre of development in order to help the world recover from the crisis.”

Oxfam is also calling for a number of measures in Ireland, including reform of the Irish care system. Care work (paid and unpaid) in Ireland and around the world is highly gendered and undervalued in terms of pay and recognition. Provision of care services - childcare, care for the elderly or people with special needs - by the Irish State is relatively low, leaving households to provide these services themselves or to source them from the market - if they can pay. This issue has become even more acute due to the COVID-19 crisis.

In addition, they call for priority to be given to supporting small businesses that have the least ability to cope with the crisis, saying that bailouts of big corporations should be conditional on measures to uphold the interests of workers, farmers and taxpayers and to build a sustainable future.

Recognising that Ireland has made some reforms to address corporate tax avoidance, Oxfam say these haven’t gone far enough to address the scale of tax avoidance that is facilitated by Ireland’s current corporate tax regime.

Clarken concluded: “As in the last the financial crisis, the choices currently being made in the short-term at EU level will determine the policy choices open to the Irish Government in the aftermath of the pandemic. The new Irish Government should advocate for development of a monitoring mechanism to ensure any new resources allocated to tackle COVID-19 benefit the most vulnerable parts of the economy.

“The pandemic has forced us to reconsider what is essential to keeping our economies and societies functioning. It has also shown the incredible power of solidarity and collective action - we can rebuild a better world. Ireland now has an opportunity to fulfil its ambition to increase its international influence as set out in Global Ireland and A Better World.

“A better future must be guided by universality, collaboration, human rights, interconnectedness and on the principle of leaving no-one behind. The time is now for Ireland to cement its place as a world leader for progressive change.”

Download Responding to New Global Realities: An Agenda for the new Irish Government and Oireachtas (EXECUTIVE SUMMARY) here.

Download Responding to New Global Realities: An Agenda for the new Irish Government and Oireachtas (FULL BRIEFING) here.

ENDS

CONTACT: For interviews or for more information, please contact:

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

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

Notes to the Editor:

Oxfam Ireland's three-point plan:

Resource low-income countries’ development needs in a changed world  

  • Achieve cross-party support for a realistic published road map on overseas development aid (ODA) that will show a genuine commitment towards reaching 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income in line with our international commitments. 
  • At a minimum maintain, and preferably increase, our existing aid investment as recommended by the OECD’s DAC review in the short term and ensure that NGOs have effective and timely access to that funding both nationally and internationally.   
  • Support the cancellation of all developing country debts due to be paid in 2020 and 2021 and ensure that new emergency funding is provided by means of grants not loans. 
  • Ensure that EU adequately responds to the short and long-term development needs of poorer countries, including ensuring that the level of resources under Heading VI (“Neighbourhood & the World”) is maintained at no less than ten per cent of the overall Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) in the EU. 
  • Support initiatives aimed at creating additional finance flows including the issuing of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) as once off global stimulus. 
  • Maintain Ireland’s commitment to development effectiveness by implementing the recommendations of the OECD DAC review of Ireland’s ODA programme in full.

Support system change in healthcare, food production and protection of the vulnerable

  • Support the development of an effective Global Public Health Plan and Emergency Response to tackle COVID-19 head on, including scaling up investments in public health promotion and communication, community engagement and education, and in access to water and sanitation, especially handwashing, as well as free testing for all. Advocate for and support the recruitment of ten million health workers. 
  • Ensure Ireland’s ODA supports the move to universal public healthcare in low-income countries to help ensure that everyone has access to healthcare and that humanity is prepared for future outbreaks.  
  • Advocate for the development of a global agreement that vaccines and treatments, when approved for use, will be a global public good, available to all who need it free of charge and that rich countries will provide enough funding to make it available rapidly to the whole of humanity. 
  • Maintain and increase Ireland’s ODA support for agriculture and food security, while promoting the functioning of food supply chains, with a view to strengthening food security and resilience against shocks in the short and medium term, especially due to climate breakdown. 
  • Support efforts to implement a global ceasefire in armed conflicts that lay the foundation for long-term peace in the future. 
  • Ensure that both ODA monies and diplomatic missions are used to promote fundamental freedoms and strengthen civic and political space, ensuring measures needed for the pandemic control are proportionate, time-bound and non-discriminatory.  
  • Recognise the crucial roles that women and women-led organisations will play in delivering the response to the COVID- 19 crisis and to development work in general and work in partnership with them.  
  • Support and protect vulnerable populations, especially migrants and refugees, including by amending the overly restrictive nature of Ireland’s current family reunification legislation and fulfilling our commitment to bring unaccompanied minors being held on the Greek Islands to safety in Ireland. 

Build a more sustainable and just world

  • Reform the ‘care system’. 
  • Bail out businesses responsibly. Priority must be given to supporting small businesses that have the least ability to cope with the crisis. Any public support for large corporations should be conditional on measures that uphold the interests of workers, farmers and taxpayers and build a sustainable future.   
  • Support the EC COVID-19 Rescue Package.  
  • Reform the corporate tax system. 
  • Pass mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence legislation in Ireland and support the efforts to pass such legislation at the EU level. 
  • Reform the EU macroeconomic framework. 
  • Implement faster and fair climate action as set out by the One Future Campaign, including reducing Ireland’s greenhouse emissions by eight per cent a year in line with Ireland’s Paris Agreement commitment. 
  • Help poorer countries to cope with the climate emergency by reaching the target of spending 20 per cent of ODA on climate finance by 2025. Increased ODA spending on climate finance should receive an additional budgetary allocation rather than being diverted from the existing ODA budget. 
  • Support the development of the Circular Economy as set out in the government’s Climate Action Plan.
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‘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  

 

ENDS

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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