Press Releases

Oxfam warns of humanitarian crisis as violence escalates in North-East Syria

 

Civilians at risk and humanitarian work suspended.

Civilians in North-East Syria are at risk and humanitarian aid could be cut off following the launch of a new military operation in the area, Oxfam Ireland has warned.

Reports from humanitarian responders on the ground say civilians are already on the move and that some vital services have been interrupted, including vital medical facilities and water supplies. Agencies say that some of their staff have fled with their families, while others are on lockdown.

Oxfam Ireland’s Humanitarian Manager Colm Byrne, recently returned from Syria, said: “Urgent action is needed to ensure that the humanitarian situation in North-East Syria does not worsen, with potentially dire consequences for families and children who find themselves once again caught up in deadly violence. An estimated 450,000 people live within 5km of the Syria-Turkey border and are at risk if all sides do not exercise maximum restraint and prioritise the protection of civilians. The population includes more than 90,000 internally displaced people, who have already been forced to flee their homes at least once in Syria’s unrelenting war.” 

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there are at least 1,650,000 people in need of humanitarian assistance in North-East Syria. The life-saving humanitarian response will be threatened if instability forces aid agencies to suspend or relocate their programming and staff, as is already happening. With an ongoing major crisis in Idlib and huge needs across the country, the aid response in Syria is already stretched to breaking point. Oxfam is urging parties to the conflict to fully respect International Humanitarian Law and ensure that they refrain from using explosive weapons in populated areas.

They must ensure all measures are taken to protect civilians and facilitate safe, unhindered humanitarian access. People living in the area affected by this military action have the right to freedom of movement and must not be forcibly displaced from their homes. Likewise, there must be no forcible returns of refugees living in Turkey to Syria. Anyone returned could face threats to their safety and security, continued internal displacement and reliance on humanitarian assistance that the international community is not in a position to provide. According to the Government of Turkey, an estimated 83 per cent of the three million Syrians in Turkey do not originate from the North-East.

The international community has an important role to play in helping to resolve this crisis."

The UN Security Council must emphasise the need for restraint and reiterate importance of protecting civilians and facilitating unimpeded humanitarian operations.

“The security situation in the area is already fragile, with tens of thousands of fighters and their families being held in camps and detention centres. All children must be protected and provided humanitarian assistance, and countries of origin should take immediate steps to repatriate the estimated 9,000 children from at least 40 different nationalities who are in North-East Syria.”

 - ENDS -

Oxfam has spokespeople available for interview. 

For more information please contact:
Phillip Graham on 00 44 (0) 7841 102535 / phillip.graham@oxfam.org

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Oxfam stages Women Alone – an event exploring key issues of our time at CADA NI’s One World Festival

EVENT NOTICE

Interactive theatre experience imagines a Northern Ireland devastated by disaster, displacement, conflict and poverty

WHAT:                          Women Alone – an interactive theatre experience by Joanne O’Connor

WHEN:                         Tuesday 22nd October from 7.00pm – 9.30pm

WHERE:                       Crescent Arts Centre, 2-4 University Road, Belfast, BT7 1NH

TICKETS:                     oneworldfestivalni.com/events/women-alone/  (Admission free)

As part of this month’s inaugural One World Festival, Oxfam Ireland will imagine a Northern Ireland overwhelmed by humanitarian disaster, displacement, conflict and poverty through an interactive theatre experience at the Crescent Arts Centre in Belfast.  

On Tuesday 22nd October at 7pm, the international development agency will stage a thought-provoking play entitled Women Alone, inspired by the strength and resilience of the women Oxfam works with across its long-term development and humanitarian programmes. The drama is set in a contemporary Northern Ireland following an unspecified humanitarian emergency and brings home global stories of refugees and displacement, poverty, gender and conflict.

Playwright Joanne O’Connor, Oxfam Ireland’s Content Executive, said: “The play is inspired by two powerful first-person stories from women we work with from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda – women who have suffered unimaginable tragedy but overcame to help others survive and even thrive.”

Actor Eileen McCloskey plays the role of Rita, a former midwife who fled the violence in her home country when the war intensified and is now an Oxfam-assisted hygiene worker educating a refugee camp community on the importance of good sanitation. The role of Flonira – who was widowed during the conflict, and used funds earned from an Oxfam-supported cooperative to help pay for her son’s college studies – is played by Cathy Brennan-Bradley.

O’Connor continued: “The fictionalised versions of their stories will be told in familiar accents against a Northern Irish landscape to help bring home the faraway stories we hear again and again in the news – accompanied by images and stories from our own work around the world.

“Right now, there are over 70 million people on the move globally, forced to flee their homes because of conflict, persecution and war. This number is too big to comprehend – but with Women Alone, we hope to highlight the individual stories which reflect the often harrowing, at times triumphant lived experience of the one. The themes – family, separation, loss, hope and new beginnings – are universal and will hopefully resonate deeply with people here.”

The performance will be followed by a space to reflect on the important role women and local communities play in responding to poverty and disaster through a discussion chaired by former BBC broadcaster Roisin McAuley.

Admission is free and the event will take place on Tuesday 22nd October from 7pm – 9.30pm at the Crescent Arts Centre, 2-4 University Road, Belfast BT7 1NH. Tickets are available at oneworldfestivalni.com/events/women-alone/

The One World Festival will bring together more than 40 events in Belfast, Derry, Armagh and Lisburn from 16-27th October, exploring the world we share through a diverse line-up of talks, music, poetry, film, drama, debate and storytelling. The festival has been organised by the Coalition of Aid and Development Agencies (CADA NI) – made up of 20 overseas development and humanitarian charities in Northern Ireland – to explore global issues and inspire action locally towards a just, peaceful and sustainable world.

A full list of the One World Festival programme events is available at oneworldfestivalni.com.

ENDS

Oxfam has spokespeople available for interview. For more information or to arrange an interview please contact: Phillip Graham on 07841 102535 / phillip.graham@oxfam.org

NOTES TO EDITORS

  • About Oxfam Ireland

Oxfam is a global movement of people working together to beat poverty for good. Around the globe, we work to find practical, innovative ways for people to lift themselves out of poverty and thrive. Together we save lives and rebuild communities when disaster strikes. We also speak out on the big issues that keep people poor, like inequality and discrimination against women. Oxfam Ireland is one of 19 Oxfam affiliates working as one in more than 90 countries. Oxfam has been supported by people across the island of Ireland, north and south, for over 60 years. We have over 2,000 volunteers, 140 staff and 47 shops throughout the island.

For more information about Oxfam, visit www.oxfamireland.org

  • About One World Festival

This new festival will run from 16th – 27th October 2019 across various locations and venues in Northern Ireland, to increase awareness about the Global South, promote understanding of issues that affect the lives of the poorest people and inspire action in our communities towards a just, peaceful and sustainable world.

Ticketed events can be reserved or purchased online at oneworldfestivalni.com

  • About CADA NI

CADA NI, or the Coalition of Aid and Development Agencies Northern Ireland, is the umbrella organisation of overseas aid and development agencies with an active presence in Northern Ireland. Member organisations work to promote sustainable development, social justice and a fairer society in both local and global contexts. They support sustainable international development by enhancing awareness and a better understanding of development issues in Northern Ireland, and influencing policy at local, national and international government level.

For more information visit www.cada-ni.org

See For Yourself – An Evening of Ugandan Culture!

 

Last year, we took three supporters to Uganda to see first-hand the impact that their generosity has on the lives of people affected by poverty and injustice.

And now we’re inviting the rest of our supporters, friends and the public to do the same and join us for an evening of Ugandan culture, with music, food and stories from the field!  

We’re hosting an informal event on Wednesday 25th September from 18.00 – 20.00 at WeWork, Block D, Iveagh Court, Harcourt Road, Dublin 2.

- Come see for yourself how we're helping to beat poverty for good in Uganda and beyond

- Taste authentic Ugandan food and get some top tips too, while enjoying African drums and music

- Hear from Oxfam supporters who saw first-hand the impact of their generosity during a See For Yourself trip to Uganda

This event is free and open to all but please let us know you're coming - RSVP by emailing eleonora.menghetti@oxfam.org

 

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Say no to new clothes, with Oxfam’s Second Hand September

  • 63% of people in Ireland agree that charity shops play a key role in sustainable fashion.
  • Charity calls on sustainable shoppers to take the 30-day Second hand September pledge

More than six in 10 Irish people (63%) see their local charity shop as playing a key role in sustainable fashion, according to new research from Oxfam Ireland.

The survey also revealed that an overwhelming amount of people (76%) donate unwanted items to charity shops because it reduces the amount of clothes being thrown away, while 62% buy pre-loved clothes and accessories because it gives items a second chance to be worn and enjoyed.

The research comes as the charity rolls out Second Hand September – a new initiative offering a solution to throwaway fashion and the devastating impact it is having on people and the planet. Throughout the month of September, Oxfam is calling on people across the island of Ireland to pledge to say no to buying new clothes for 30 days and yes to shopping second-hand. People can sign up at oxfamireland.org/shs and start their 30-day challenge at any time.

Michael McIlwaine, Oxfam Ireland’s Head of Retail, said: “Cheap production and plummeting prices when it comes to clothes means the items we buy often have a shorter lifespan, with more and more ending up in landfill before they should. In Ireland, 225 tonnes of textile are dumped every year. In the UK, 11 million items of clothing are thrown away every week. Throwaway fashion is putting increasing pressure on our planet and its people – and it’s not sustainable.

“Our shops are part of the solution by offering people a way to reduce the amount of items they’re sending to landfill through donating as well as a way to reuse by shopping second-hand and giving clothes, accessories and more a new lease of life. By donating and shopping in-store, you’re also helping to raise vital funds for people living in poverty worldwide, including those affected by climate change.

“We are asking people to join us on a journey to a more sustainable lifesyle, starting with the clothes we wear. Throughout September, we’re calling on people to pledge to say no to buying news clothes for 30 days. They can sign-up and start at any time through oxfamireland.org/shs and we’ll be with them every step of the way, sending top tips, inspiration and more to make the pledge a breeze.“

To take the pledge, visit: www.oxfamireland.org/shs

ENDS

For interviews, images or more information, please get in touch:

ROI:     Alice Dawson-Lyons on 00 353 (0) 83 198 1869 / alice.dawsonlyons@oxfam.org

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

NOTES TO EDITORS:

  • The survey was commissioned by Oxfam and conducted by Empathy Research in 2019. The full methodology and research data is available on request.
  • Oxfam works across many areas of fashion: collaborating with big brands to recycle and reuse stock; joining forces with fashion houses to improve conditions in their supply chains; fighting to improve garment workers’ rights; and campaigning on climate change.
  • Across its programmes, Oxfam is tackling the impact of the climate crisis. They work with communities to prepare for unpredictable weather and disasters as a result of climate change and are there to help when the worst does happen, from drought to floods and earthquakes.
  • Oxfam has 47 shops across the island of Ireland, selling high-quality pre-loved clothes, accessories, handbags, shoes and more. To find the nearest Oxfam shop, visit www.oxfamireland.org/shops
  • Irish people dump 225,000 tonnes of clothing every year. Source: http://re-dress.ie/when-fashion-is-finished-garment-end-of-life-solutions/

 

Nearly 1,000 child casualties of Yemen war in year since shocking Sa’ada bus attack

Number killed directly by fighting is equivalent to eight more bus loads
 
More than 300 children have died in fighting across Yemen in the year since an airstrike hit a bus in Sa’ada killing 41 school children and almost 600 have been injured, as international arms sales continue to fuel the conflict.
 
335 children have been killed by violent attacks including airstrikes, mines and shelling since 9 August 2018, equivalent to another eight buses being hit. Many more have died from hunger and disease, according to the UN, in a massive humanitarian crisis stoked by the conflict.
 
The latest arms sales data, released last month, shows the UK has now licensed over £5 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia since 2015 when the conflict in Yemen between the Houthis and the internationally recognised government, backed by an international coalition that includes Saudi Arabia and the UAE, escalated. 
 
The Court of Appeal has ruled that arms sales to Saudi Arabia are unlawful and ordered the UK government to stop licensing new weapons exports while they assess whether airstrikes, including attacks involving children like those above, are a serious violation of international humanitarian law. The UK government has said it will appeal to the Supreme Court to overturn that decision.
 
Jim Clarken, Oxfam Ireland’s Chief Executive, said: “The world was rightly appalled by an attack that took the lives of so many young, innocent schoolchildren. Yet almost one child a day has been killed in the year since and violence remains a daily threat for Yemenis, alongside the struggle against hunger and disease.
 
“The people of Yemen urgently need a nationwide ceasefire before more lives are lost to this horrific conflict and the humanitarian disaster that it is fueling. All parties to the conflict and those with influence over them should do all in their power to end this deadly war now.”
 
Since the latest figures were published, more children have been killed or injured. Just last week an attack on a market killed at least 10 civilians, including children, in Sa’ada while in Taizz, five children were injured by shelling.
 
Airstrikes and shelling in Al Dale’e in May killed 10 children. In March, five children were killed in clashes in Taizz city while an attack on the Kushar district of Hajjah governorate killed 14 children. Over the year, there have been thirty incidents involving schools and eighteen involving hospitals. 
 
The conflict, between the Houthis and the internationally recognised government, backed by an international coalition that includes Saudi Arabia and the UAE, is now in its fifth year. The United Nations has estimated that if the war continues until 2022, more than half a million people will be killed by fighting, hunger and disease. 
 
The Houthis and the internationally recognized government of Yemen reached an agreement at talks in December which included a ceasefire deal for the key port of Hudaydah but moves to implement it have been long delayed.
 
The government and the Saudi-led coalition have accused the Houthi forces of over 5000 violations of the Stockholm agreement, while the Houthis have in turn blamed the coalition and government forces for more than 27,000 violations.
 
The international community is coming under increasing pressure to stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia and other members of the coalition. In June, the Court of Appeal ruled that UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia were breaking the law.
 
Clarken said: “Seventy years after the creation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which seeks to protect civilians in and around war zones, children in Yemen still find themselves in the firing line. 
 
“Rather than fighting the legal ruling against weapons, the UK government should join with the international community to focus on protecting the lives of Yemeni civilians and ending this war, not profiting from it through arms sales.”
 
ENDS 
 
For more information, or to arrange an interview, please contact: 
Phillip Graham on 0044 (0) 7841 102535 / phillip.graham@oxfamireland.org 
 
NOTES TO EDITORS
 
Data on the number of children killed and injured has been provided by the UN Civilian Impact Monitoring Project (CIMP). It is unverified open source information. The Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) and the Yemen Data Project also monitor civilian casualties. None is an official source and given the difficulties of working in Yemen, the data from these three sources do not always match.
The CIMP data shows 335 children died and 590 were injured between 9 August 2018, when the bus attack in Sa’ada took place, and 3 July 2019.
The government and coalition allege over 5000 violations of the Stockholm agreement by Houthi forces since it came into effect on 23 December 2018 until 10 June 2019. The Houthis allege 27714 violations by the government and coalition in the period 23 December 2018 to 2 July 2019.
 
 
 

Yemen War - 1000 Child Casualites in a Year

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