Press Releases

Nearly half a million people out of reach in Gaza - Oxfam

18 May 2021

Today, Oxfam said they cannot reach an estimated 450,000 people in Gaza because of the continuing fighting and aerial bombardment. Oxfam staff are trying to resume their humanitarian and livelihood programmes with partners, but the destruction and indiscriminate threat to life make any emergency aid impossible to mount at present. The international agency should be providing food, clean water, sanitation and child protection support but the bombing is making it too dangerous for anyone to leave their homes.

An assessment by Oxfam’s water and sanitation team found that many water wells and pumping stations have been damaged by Israel’s bombardments. These facilities are the only way for people living in Gaza to get clean water and any disruption to them creates immediate distress. Authorities estimate that 40 percent of Gaza water supplies have been affected. People are struggling to secure cash or income to support their basic needs such as food, water, and medicines. Many have been forced to spend their savings or are trying to sell assets to provide for their families. While others, who have lost their homes, have been forced into temporary shelters and, for now, humanitarian actors have not been able to set up systems to properly support them with food, water and sanitation facilities.

Shane Stevenson, Oxfam Country Director for the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel, said: “We must remember that Gaza is in the midst of coping with the Covid pandemic too. People need access to water and medicines to halt the spread of the virus, and to hospitals to treat people with severe Covid cases."

As much as 200,000 hectares of agricultural land has been bombed or is otherwise inaccessible to farmers because of the danger of attack. Transport and movement around Gaza is not only unsafe but has been made highly difficult because of the bomb damage to roads and debris from destroyed buildings, with some arterial routes blocked entirely.  Oxfam says that it could take weeks to start meaningful repairs and organise some recovery and resumption of normality for people in Gaza, even if a ceasefire was declared today.

Stevenson continued: “The situation is dreadful but – until the security situation improves enough to properly open up assessments and aid supply lines – things will quickly deteriorate much further. Families are telling us that they are too scared to leave their homes for food and some have already run out of drinking water. The scale of suffering is immense and yet we cannot respond properly. These aerial assaults have taken lives and any sense of safety, but they are also taking away people’s options to cope – to buy food and supplies, and to go about their lives. The people of Gaza are psychologically exhausted, fearful, and exposed. They need peace now in order to pick up the broken pieces of their lives.”

Laila Barhoum, Oxfam’s Policy Advisor in Gaza, said: “When people tell me to ‘stay safe’ during these bombardments, I always think, how exactly? I have no iron dome to protect me, no bomb shelter to take cover in, and no place to flee, because we are pinned in by concrete walls on three sides and the Mediterranean Sea is the fourth."

Oxfam calls for an immediate end to all violence. All parties must comply and adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law. The international community must immediately work to put an end to both the current escalation of hostilities and the underlying human rights violations and systemic policies of oppression and discrimination which gave rise to it, including the Israeli occupation itself.  Prior to this new escalation, Oxfam was already responding under a 14-year air, land and sea Israeli blockade rendering the Gaza Strip “unliveable” according to the UN, at a time when eighty percent of Gaza’s two million residents were already in need of humanitarian aid.

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For interviews, please contact:

Caroline Reid | caroline.reid@oxfam.org

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Oxfam statement on the escalation of hostilities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel

14 May 2021

Civilians are once again paying the price for the failures of political leaders to negotiate a just and lasting peace for Palestinians and Israelis. Instead, we are witnessing yet another cycle of death and destruction that brings us no closer to addressing the root causes of the crisis and drives further human rights violations, poverty and suffering, particularly for a lost generation of children and young Palestinians.

Laila Barhoum, Oxfam’s Policy Advisor in Gaza, said: “Palestinians in Gaza have endured three successive wars just in the last ten years. We are tired. Day after day we watch the bombs fall on homes where our friends and family live and buildings where our colleagues work, wondering if we will be next. And day after day we wait in vain for the unequivocal condemnation from the international community that never comes. When a ceasefire is eventually declared, we will once again dig out from the rubble and begin to rebuild, only to wait for another cycle of bombardment to destroy what we have done.” 

Oxfam calls for an immediate end to all violence. All parties must comply and adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law and the principles of distinction, precaution and proportionality in the use of force. The international community must immediately work to put an end to both the current escalation of hostilities and the underlying human rights violations and systemic policies of oppression and discrimination which gave rise to it, including the occupation.

Even before violence erupted, families in Gaza were preoccupied with daily survival as they observed the holy month of Ramadan in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and a 14-year blockade. Today, they are celebrating Eid under the shadow of ongoing aerial bombardment that has killed 110 Palestinians – including 29 children and 14 women – and injuring 620. Should the violence continue, many innocent civilians in Gaza will lose their lives; and thousands more will have their lives endangered by an economic and public services shutdown. Seven Israelis have died from rocket attacks – including two children – and 107 have been injured. Communities across Israel are living in fear of indiscriminate rockets, while alarming inter-communal violence is growing across several cities in Israel.

Palestinian citizens of Israel who have taken to the streets to protest the Israeli government’s systemic policies of discrimination against Palestinians across the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel have been met with the same excessive force that was used against demonstrators in Jerusalem.

This escalation must not overshadow the underlying causes of the violence, but instead compel a renewed focus on addressing them. The violations the world is witnessing are the direct result of weeks of brutality and excessive force by Israeli settlers and police against Palestinian worshippers, medical staff and demonstrators in occupied East Jerusalem as well as efforts to forcibly transfer residents of Sheikh Jarrah from their homes. They are also the result of years of impunity for Israeli human rights violations and a lack of international pressure on Israel to fulfil its international legal obligations as the occupying power to protect all civilians under its control. 

Palestinians across the Occupied Palestinian Territory face daily and systemic oppression and discrimination as a matter of Israeli state policy. They are denied their basic rights to freedom of movement, freedom of worship, and freedom to assemble and express themselves peacefully. People in Gaza are trapped under siege with nowhere to flee for safety. In East Jerusalem and across many parts of the West Bank, they are at daily risk of being forcibly displaced from their homes, as part of a state-sponsored effort in support of settler organizations who seek to drive Palestinians off their land. These are all clear violations of International Law. 

Words matter, but they are not enough. The international community has a duty to condemn all human rights and international law violations swiftly and unequivocally, wherever and whenever they occur. Governments must take bold action to end the impunity and hold those who violate international law to account. Their lack of political courage directly enables the escalating series of retaliations that puts civilians in the firing line of indiscriminate rockets and military airstrikes.  

Barhoum continued: “When people tell me to ‘stay safe’ during these bombardments, I always think, how exactly? I have no iron dome to protect me, no bomb shelter to take cover in, and no place to flee, because we are pinned in by concrete walls on three sides and the Mediterranean Sea is the fourth. This is the reality we need the world to understand, so we can stop applying a double standard when it comes to condemning the killing of our people and protecting our human rights."

It is long past time to break the cycle of war followed by truces and pledges of humanitarian aid that only represent bandages on deep wounds and, instead, to genuinely tackle the root causes of injustice and violence that is being perpetrated under the occupation.

END

Oxfam has in-country staff available for interview, contact Caroline Reid at Oxfam Ireland to arrange.

Note to editors:  

 Since the outbreak of violence in Gaza on Monday 10 May (as per today Thursday 14th May, 11:00 CET):  

  • 110 Palestinians killed including 29 children and 14 women, and 620 injured.
  • 107 Israelis injured
  • 110 Palestinians killed across Gaza by Israeli airstrikes and shelling, including 29 children, 14 women, and 620 wounded including 115 children  
  • 7 killed in Israel by rockets launched from Gaza, including 2 children and 107 wounded  
  • 1,160 rockets and mortar shells launched at Israel by Hamas militants from Gaza, around 240 of these landed in the sea or in the Gaza Strip 
  • Hundreds of military airstrikes by Israel targeting locations across the Gaza Strip 
  • 483 Palestinians across cities in the West Bank were hospitalised following confrontations with the Israeli army overnight late Wednesday
  • 374 people were arrested during confrontations across various cities inside of Israel and East Jerusalem overnight late Wednesday 
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Oxfam Ireland want your pre-loved clothes, books, furniture and even wedding dresses

  • Bag up your pre-loved items for donation at your local Oxfam shop   

  • Support people and planet by volunteering with Oxfam Ireland 

 

13 May 2021

On Monday 17 May, Oxfam shops across the Island of Ireland will be open for business and their top priority is new volunteers and of course, your pre-loved donations. 

Caroline Reid, Communications Manager with Oxfam Ireland, said: “Today, we are calling on people to bag up their donations of pre-loved clothes, accessories and bric-a-brac as their local Oxfam shop will be accepting donations from Monday 17 May. We also have a number of specialised shops including Oxfam Books, Oxfam Furniture and Oxfam Bridal - so people can donate anything from a bookshelf to a wedding dress.

“The reality is, after more than two months of closure – your donations are needed more than ever. Our shops play a vital role in raising much-needed funds for our work globally – they are central to ensuring we can continue to protect and support some of the most vulnerable communities in the world.

“The loss of income during this period dealt a massive blow. However, we have amazing supporters right across Ireland who have helped us bounce back after each lockdown by volunteering, shopping and donating. 

"As our shop teams swing back into action in preparation for their long-awaited reopening, we have also launched an appeal right across Ireland for volunteers to join our retail teams.”

Volunteers play a vital role in Oxfam’s work globally, while also providing a solution to throwaway fashion by saving items from ending up in landfills here at home. By giving a little of their time and creativity, each one makes a huge difference in support of some of the most at-risk communities in the world, while helping our planet a little along the way. 

Reid continued: “I would encourage anyone interested in lending some time at our shops to make an application through our online portal - people can give as little or as much time as they like, and we provide full training. Beyond day-to-day retail duties there are a variety of activities that people can help with from visual merchandising (for anyone with a creative flare for designing window displays) to social media (crafting engaging posts for digital channels).

"We're really looking forward to seeing all of our staff and volunteers in store again, doing what they do best, and we're so excited to welcome our customers and donors back on the 17 May. 

“It is because of the commitment and enthusiasm of our staff, volunteers, and supporters that Oxfam Ireland can work towards building a fairer and more sustainable world for everyone.” 

Apply to volunteer with your local Oxfam shop here: www.oxfamireland.org/getinvolved/volunteer/apply 

Find a full list of Oxfam Ireland shops here: www.oxfamireland.org/shop/oxfam-shops 

END 

Contact 

Caroline Reid | caroline.reid@oxfam.org | 087 912 3165 

Notes to the Editor  

Safety measures Oxfam Ireland Shops will be taking:

  • All shops have a suite of PPE: sneeze screens in front of the tills, social distancing measures and messaging throughout the shop and a sanitation station at the entrance. 
  • Staff and volunteers will wear masks and they will have an infrared thermometer in each shop to ensure regular check-ups - as well plenty of handwashing - throughout the day. 
  • We do expect a surge in donations and have put guidelines and processes in place to manage this eventuality.  
  • As part of the overall ‘Covid Compliant Reopening Plan’ which focuses on the Health & Safety of our Staff, Volunteers, Customers and Donors we will be following the up-to-date government guidelines regarding the quarantining of donations 
  • All shops have had a risk assessment carried out and all staff and volunteers will be taken through Covid-19 Compliant Health & Safety training before they start their shift. 
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Oxfam Reaction to Announced US Support of WTO TRIPS Waiver On Covid Vaccines

5 May 2021

In response to today’s announcement that the US Trade Representative is supporting waiving intellectual property rights on Covid-19 vaccines, Jim Clarken, Chief Executive of Oxfam Ireland said:

“It’s now time for Ireland and the EU to follow the US in this life saving decision and end their opposition to the TRIPS waiver and work together to deliver urgently needed vaccines to the world.

“Over the past year, nurses, doctors, Nobel Laureates, former heads of state, artists, economists, public health activists and more than two million people from around the world have rallied together to call on governments to reassert moral and public leadership on the world stage. Today President Biden answered that call.

“The horrific situation in India is a warning to all of us that if we don’t move urgently to share the vaccine technology and scale up manufacturing so everyone, everywhere can have access to these lifesaving vaccines, we will never get the upper hand on Covid anywhere.”

Abby Maxman, Oxfam America’s President and CEO, made the following statement in response to today's news:

“President Biden and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai have recognised that Pharma’s ‘business as usual’ is killing us. In this moment of crisis, we applaud their willingness to pursue a new path that prioritises public health over private profits.

“Today, we celebrate the momentous decision by President Biden and his administration to engage with the rest of the world to pull down all barriers standing in the way of everyone everywhere getting access to Covid vaccines.

“This is a testament to the widespread public movement calling for an end to vaccine monopolies. It is also a testament to an administration that listens and is willing to do whatever it takes to defeat Covid-19.

“We are at a crucial inflexion point in the fight against the coronavirus, yet we have remained essentially at the mercy of a handful of giant pharmaceutical corporations that have monopoly control over the life-saving technologies we all need. This may now begin to change.

“Loosening the monopoly grip that pharmaceutical companies have on these life-saving vaccines is an essential step toward increased manufacturing that would lead to worldwide immunisation, helping the US and everyone else. We will now look to the White House for leadership in a strong WTO outcome, in urgently insisting on the transfer of technologies through the World Health Organisation Covid-19 Technology Access pool, and in investing strategically to build up regional vaccine hubs to defeat this and future pandemics."

ENDS


Contact
Caroline Reid | caroline.reid@oxfam.org| 087 912 3165

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Oxfam responds to deadly Covid-19 wave in India

Oxfam Media Advisory: 29 April 2021

 

Spokespeople available for interview via Skype or phone 

 

Oxfam India has deployed teams to five of the worst-hit states in India where a second wave of coronavirus is sweeping the country. The international organisation is urgently appealing for $2 million to fund its emergency response to the crisis.  

Teams have already started providing face masks, hand sanitiser and other protective equipment in parts of Maharashtra following a request from state health authorities. Distribution of PPE to 500 frontline health workers will begin in Maharashtra, Delhi, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in the coming days. 

Oxfam India is procuring oxygen tanks, beds, digital thermometers, and other medical equipment to help government hospitals where supplies are desperately low. They are also preparing to provide food rations and cash support to stranded migrant workers and other marginalised groups, and handwashing stations in public spaces.  

Pankaj Anand, Humanitarian and Programmes Director, said: “The surge in coronavirus cases has caught the country off guard. We are seeing hundreds of thousands of new cases every day and many more deaths. The health infrastructure in India is bursting at the seams and there are widespread reports of shortages of oxygen and other medical supplies in large cities.” 

Amitabh Behar, CEO of Oxfam India, said: "People are literally dying on the streets or in car parks or in their homes. There is no-one I think in India who doesn’t know of friends or family or colleagues who have not had Covid. We are a country that is united in fearful expectation.

“Hospitals and health centres are begging for equipment and medicines and oxygen. The prices of medicines and oxygen has skyrocketed. This is a situation so bad, in my memory it is almost beyond my conception.

“Our immediate priority is to supply hospitals and health workers with medical equipment and PPE so they can continue treating those who are sick. But to avoid a worse humanitarian disaster it is vital we stop the spread and so we are also preparing handwashing stations and awareness campaigns to help people stay safe. We are particularly concerned about migrant workers and other marginalised groups who may be stranded in the open and will be hit hardest by lockdowns and the economic shock. Oxfam India is preparing to provide food rations and cash assistance to help the most vulnerable people to survive the coming weeks.

"Oxfam has also been asked to source electric incinerators. We will provide what we can and what is urgently needed – but it is heart-breaking to begin to understand that equipment to cope with the dead is as scarce and needed now as equipment that would help the living.

"India is the 'pharmacy of the world' and yet it is gasping for breath. This is wrong. India needs the world’s help now – with international aid and resources and assistance – but it needs the freedom too to unleash its own pharmaceutical might to produce Covid vaccines and not be bound by the patents and licenses and deals that it has had to make with the big pharmaceutical companies.

To arrange an interview, please contact:  

Oxfam Ireland

Caroline Reid | caroline.reid@oxfam.org | 087 912 3165

Joannne O' Connor | irl-media@oxfam.org | 083 198 1869

Oxfam India

Tejas Patel | tejas@oxfamindia.org | +91 9999105600 

Savvy Soumya Misra | savvy@oxfamindia.org | +91 98187 79535

END

Notes to editors: 

  • Oxfam India will begin supplying PPE to 500 frontline health workers in five states in the coming days. It is also procuring oxygen tanks and masks, beds, digital thermometers and other medical equipment to help supply government hospitals, as well as 900 emergency food rations to support the most marginalised groups. Oxfam India and its partners are monitoring the situation in 16 states across India. 
  • Since the first outbreak of Covid-19 last year, Oxfam India has been working to provide food, PPE, safety kits, cash assistance and livelihoods training across 15 states (Assam, Bihar, Odisha, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Kerala, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Telangana). Oxfam India is committed to reaching the most vulnerable and marginalised groups including Adivasis, Dalits, Muslims and women and girls. 
  • The sudden disruption caused by lockdowns has had a severe impact on daily wage labourers, migrants and informal workers who are struggling to feed themselves and their families. The sudden spike in cases Covid-19 in states like Gujarat, Maharashtra and Delhi has resulted in many migrant workers becoming stranded in railway stations, bus terminals or at their places of work. Oxfam’s field teams report that these groups, who are often excluded from government support, need food and handwashing facilities to reduce their chances of becoming infected.  
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