Press Releases

New Ebola cases in Goma pose risk of disease spreading internationally, says Oxfam Ireland CEO

In response to the World Health Organisation’s declaration of the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as a ‘public health emergency of international concern’, Oxfam Ireland’s Chief Executive Jim Clarken said:

“Ebola has now been confirmed in Goma, a major transport hub with a population of more than one million people. The city’s location on the border with Rwanda only increases the risk of international spread of this deadly disease.

“We need more intensified and coordinated action from the international community and this decision by the World Health Organization (WHO) is a major step in attracting the world’s attention to the Ebola crisis in DRC.

“We welcome their recommendation to prioritise community engagement, as we know that getting the trust of communities affected by the virus has been a massive barrier and focusing primarily on a medical approach hasn’t been working.”

Over 13 million people in DRC are facing acute levels of hunger and many have endured decades of violence and conflict. 300,000 people have recently been displaced by renewed conflict in Ituri, an area not far from an Ebola outbreak which nearly a year on has killed 1,600 people.

Clarken added: “The recent Ebola deaths in Uganda also show the devastating potential for Ebola to spread across borders. Vast numbers of people on the move makes it even more difficult to track and treat patients at risk of the virus.

“We echo the WHO’s call for authorities to allow borders to remain open, so people can cross safely at official points where they can be screened for Ebola. Given the intense conflict in the region, there’s a huge risk of people crossing illegally if borders are closed. Millions of people are also dependent on cross border trade and if this lifeline is cut off it would only put poor people at risk of losing their livelihoods, while generating more anger and distrust towards the Ebola response.”

Oxfam’s Country Director in the DRC, Corinne N’Daw, said: “This is also a crucial opportunity to strengthen the public health response and to respond to broader humanitarian needs in the country. Any new funding must be accompanied by stricter accountability to ensure that everyone is working effectively together to end this dreadful outbreak, that has claimed the lives of so many Congolese people.”

Oxfam has been providing assistance in North Kivu and Ituri with public awareness and education on how to keep safe and stop the spread of the disease. Oxfam has also responded to previous outbreaks elsewhere in DRC by providing hundreds of thousands of people with clean, safe water, and working with local community leaders and volunteers to increase understanding of how to prevent Ebola.

NOTES TO EDITORS

Oxfam has spokespeople on the ground and in Ireland. Supporting materials are also available, including photos, testimonies and video of Oxfam’s response. For more information, or to arrange an interview please contact: Phillip Graham on 0044 (0) 7841 102535 / phillip.graham@oxfamireland.org

 

Government should support recommendation on family reunification says Justice Committee

  • Senator Colette Kelleher, Oxfam, Irish Refugee Council and Nasc welcome report by Joint Committee on Justice and Equality.
  • Committee finds that a broader definition of family would be fairer to those fleeing from conflict situations.

 

A group calling for a fairer system to reunify refugee families in Ireland who have been separated by persecution, conflict, violence, or human rights violations, has welcomed a report by the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality. The report recommends that the Government should allow legislation broadening the current definition of family contained in the International Protection Act to progress through the Dáil. 

Senator Colette Kelleher, who initiated the legislation, Oxfam, Irish Refugee Council and Nasc fully endorse the findings, which state that the current regime is too restrictive and that it needs to better reflect the realities of refugee familial relationships.

Currently in Ireland, refugees can only apply to be reunited with immediate family members and children under the age of 18. The proposed amendment would broaden the definition of eligible family members to include; elderly parents, who are often too old and vulnerable to make the arduous journey to flee brothers, sisters, and  children over the age of 18. This would allow families an opportunity to apply to reunite in a place of safety and peace help them to rebuild their lives and fully integrate into their communities in Ireland.

The implications of the current restrictions were recently presented by students from Largy College in Clones, Monaghan, who visited Leinster House to tell the House about the real challenges faced by refugees on their journey to safety. Whilst there, the transition year class took the opportunity to advocate on behalf of fellow Largy College student Lilav, a Syrian teenager who was separated from her sister during the conflict.

In an open letter to officials, Lilav said: "My family and I left Aleppo eight years ago because of the war. We spent two and a half years in Turkey. While in Turkey, my older sister Jihan, married Gmo, who is also from Syria. Jihan followed her husband’s wishes and stayed in Turkey while the rest of my family moved to Greece.  We spent two years living in Greece before moving to Ireland. Jihan and Gmo stayed in Turkey until 2015 before returning to Syria following the death of Gmo’s brother. They had only planned to return to Syria for a few weeks”.

Liav continued “Due to the war, they have been unable to leave. Jihan and Gmo now have two young daughters. Elena aged one and a half and Lilav who is five months old. Syria is not a safe place for my two beautiful nieces to grow up.  Life is extremely difficult for my sister and her young family in Syria. There is no guarantee that Jihan or her family will survive. They are in a lot of danger.”

The narrowing of access to family reunification for people granted international protection under changes to the legislation made in 2015 was recently highlighted by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission to mark World Refugee Day, stating that the International Protection Act 2015 should be amended to widen the definition of family members to recognise the diversity of family forms in compliance with international human rights obligations.

Senator Colette Kelleher said: “I welcome the Detailed Scrutiny Report by the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality published today. It shows that the ‘Family Reunification’ Bill is an important, humane proposal, deserving of a money message by Government. It is in line with IHREC’s recent recommendations on refugee family reunification. My Bill returns to a more compassionate system in place for nearly two decades and gives desperate families torn apart by war and conflict, the chance to apply to be reunited in safety, puts the process on a firmer footing and within reasonable timescales. The ‘Family Reunification’ Bill recognises the diversity of family forms in compliance with international human rights obligations.”

The ‘Family Reunification’ Bill was initiated to address the restriction introduced by the International Protection Act 2015 and it has passed through all stages of the Seanad with a majority and through the Dáil Second Stage with a large majority of 78-39 in December 2018. However, it was determined that a money message from Government would be required for this Bill to proceed to formal committee stage. Today’s report by the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality recommends that the money message is granted.

 

ENDS

 

CONTACT: Interviews, images and more information available on request contact Nyle Lennon on nyle.lennon@oxfam.org  083 197 5107.

 

Notes to the Editor:

The report by the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality can be downloaded and viewed here: http://bit.ly/2LyGIBj

International Protection (Family Reunification) (Amendment) Bill 2017:  The Bill gives persons who have been granted international protection under the International Protection Act 2015 a statutory entitlement to apply for family reunification in respect of dependent members of the wider family, in addition to their current automatic right of family reunification in respect of the nuclear family.

Money message: In order for Private Members’ Bills, which are deemed by the Ceann Comhairle to involve a charge on the State, to progress to committee stage in the Dáil, they need a ‘money message’ from the government. Historically, this mechanism has rarely been used. However, the denial of a money message has recently been used to block a number of Private Members’ Bills from reaching Committee stage in the Dáil.

 

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G20 Finance Ministers discusstax reforms

 
G20 Finance Ministers are expected to give the green light to a new round of negotiations on international tax reforms at a meeting in Fukuoka, Japan on 8 - 9 June, 2019, in line with OECD recommendations issued in May. 
 
For the first time countries will debate proposals for fundamental reforms such as where a companies’ profits are taxed and whether to set a global minimum effective corporate tax rate.
 
Jim Clarken, Oxfam Ireland Chief Executive, said:
 
“This new round of global tax negotiations offers a unique chance to put a stop to corporate tax dodging and damaging tax competition. If they get it right this could mark the beginning of a new fairer tax era where poor countries are able to claim their fair share of corporate tax revenues – and release the funds they need to tackle poverty and inequality. Governments must not waste this opportunity.
 
“The UN has said that developing countries lose around $100 billion each year as a result of global corporate tax avoidance. This shortfall leaves developing countries without the revenue to provide the vital healthcare, education and infrastructure needed to tackle poverty and inequality.  Women and girls are most effected by the lack of these services, as recently highlighted by a European Parliament report on taxation policies and gender equality.
 
“If we look at Ireland, our corporate tax rate has attracted international investment that generates much-needed jobs and prosperity. However, the parallel system of tax loopholes needs to be reformed because of the knock-on effect that it has on some of the poorest communities in the world.
 
“A global consensus has seen efforts to reform the global tax system take place at the OECD, where Ireland also participates. G20 Finance Ministers need to take the opportunity this weekend to get behind reforms that will usher in a new corporate tax era.”
 
ENDS 
 
CONTACT: Nyle Lennon, nyle.lennon@oxfam.org,   083 197 5107.
 
Notes to editors
 
An Oxfam briefing note - 'Tax Revolution?' -  which provides more details on the negotiations and what is at stake is available on request.

Oxfam teams in Tanzania and Mozambique are prepared for Cyclone Kenneth

• Oxfam teams on standby to respond to second recent devastating cyclone

• Oxfam Ireland works directly in Tanzanian districts likely to be affected

Thursday 25th April, 2019

Oxfam teams in Tanzania and Mozambique are ready for the potential impact of Cyclone Kenneth, with strong winds, heavy rains, flash flooding and storm surges expected to hit the region in the next 24 hours.

Tropical Cyclone Kenneth formed north of Madagascar on April 23rd and is expected to pass over the Comoros islands as it moves towards Mozambique and southern Tanzania, making land on April 25th. This comes in the wake of another devastating cyclone in southern Africa during March.

Oxfam Ireland Chief Executive, Jim Clarken, said: “Oxfam is ready to respond in the region and is monitoring this weather event which looks set to match the recent destruction by Cyclone Idai. We have already seen more than 700 deaths with 3 million people requiring humanitarian assistance due to Idai and Cyclone Kenneth will create similar problems on the ground.”

“Strong winds and rain have already been seen in Tanzania and people in Mozambique have been told to get to safer ground as flash and river floods are expected. It is rare that such a weather event would occur in this particular area, so we are working with the population to make sure that they are ready to protect themselves in advance.”

“Oxfam Ireland works extensively in Tanzania around economic empowerment, gender equality and gender-based violence, and this cyclone is likely to cause problems for our programmes being delivered in the Lindi and Mtwara regions. Not to mention the impact on livelihoods if damage to crops and other produce occurs,” stated Clarken.

During 2017 and 2018, Oxfam Ireland worked with thousands of people in Tanzania through projects worth €1.7 million including the provision of supplies and sanitation to refugees, supporting marginalised women to claim land rights, and income-generating enterprise development.

ENDS

CONTACT

ROI: Nyle Lennon, Oxfam Ireland: nyle.lennon@oxfam.org or +353 (0) 83 197 5107

NI: Phillip Graham, Oxfam Ireland: phillip.graham@oxfam.org or +44 (0) 7841 102535

Oxfam issues urgent appeal to help 775,000 affected by Cyclone Idai

  • Families in Malawi report losing their homes and all source of income

Friday 22nd March 2019

Oxfam and partners on the ground in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe are urgently supporting families who have lost everything, including their food, shelter and only source of income as a result of Cyclone Idai.

With an estimated 2.6 million people affected after a cyclone, heavy rains and severe flooding devastated the southern African region, Oxfam is scaling up their response. They aim to reach 775,000 and have launched an appeal to meet the immediate needs of those affected by the disaster.

Daud Kayisi, Oxfam’s Communications Coordinator in Malawi, has been meeting with people in the Phalombe district, one of the worst affected areas in the country.

David said: “I spoke with a couple in Phalombe, Agnes and Alfred, who told me that their house has been entirely washed away. Now they have nothing. They don’t even have enough plastic sheeting to build a shelter where their home once was.

“In another village, Maria and her six-year-old daughter Grace told me about what happened when the water started rising. They thought that it would go away but it didn’t, and Maria’s house was washed away along with their livestock leaving them with no food, no clothing, no animals and no home.

“Maria used to keep 26 chickens and four goats to provide food for her family but to also cover the cost of her children’s education. This family and hundreds of thousands of others are now trying to survive but without any food, shelter or livelihoods.”

Oxfam Ireland’s Chief Executive Jim Clarken said: “People are not only trying to survive after essentials like food and shelter were washed away but they are also facing into rebuilding their lives from nothing – our teams on the ground are meeting people who have lost everything, including their livelihoods and sole source of income after the devastation of Cyclone Idai.

“We’re there and responding to immediate needs first. One priority is to distribute water purification kits and hygiene supplies to stop the spread of deadly disease – we’re extremely concerned about the overwhelming amount of water that has collected on land which makes it difficult to ensure safe sanitation.

“We will be providing essential aid, including shelter packs and ready-to-eat food to 525,000 people in Mozambique, 200,000 in Malawi and 50,000 in Zimbabwe.

“We’re urgently appealing to the public to be generous by donating at oxfamireland.org, or in any of our local shops. Every single donation will go a long way to providing vulnerable people with life-saving support. Thank you.”

To donate to Oxfam Ireland’s Cyclone Idai Appeal, visit: https://www.oxfamireland.org/cyclone-idai

ENDS

CONTACT:

Spokespeople are available in the region and in Ireland.

For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:

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

Notes to the editor:

Please see a selection of multi-media content here: https://oxfam.box.com/s/8o75oqt78l22v3qxlhoq1p8pr48tb62o  (Please credit: Oxfam)

 

 

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