Press Releases

Oxfam responding to devastating Cyclone Idai

 
Following on from the devastating impact of Cyclone Idai in Southern Africa, Oxfam’s local humanitarian teams have been assessing the damage caused by this deadly weather event.
 
The most affected countries include Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, with estimations of 1,000 casualties at this early stage. This figure is likely to grow significantly as the real scale of the destruction is understood.
Mozambican flood victims have said that they had to pay to make the trip by canoe. Those that did not have the money remained behind.
 
People trudge through a muddied path to safer ground in Chimanimani, about 600 kilometers southeast of Harare, Zimbabwe. Credit: Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP/REX
 
These rising numbers of people to internally displaced persons camps are already putting a strain on limited water supplies. 
 
There are additional concerns that sanitation will soon become a problem and food assistance will need to be brought in to provide extra immunity to the people affected.
 
Oxfam teams are assessing the needs of people in all three countries. They are reporting extensive damage to homes, crops, roads and bridges, and communications. 
 
Some areas have been rendered inaccessible because roads, bridges and phone lines have been washed away.
 
Oxfam teams will be prioritising shelter and sanitation as part of a large-scale evacuation of the worst affected areas. 
 
We urgently need your help to reach people in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe who have been affected by Cyclone Idai. Please give what you can today. 100% of your donation will go to our emergency response.
 
The coming hours and days will be absolutely critical to our life-saving efforts. 

You can help

A donation of €50/£40 can give a month's supply of clean and safe drinking and cooking water for families in need
A donation of €100/£90 can provide a hungry family with enough money to buy food for 3 months
A donation of €125/£100 can give sanitation to 120 people to stop the spread of life-threatening diseases.

 

For more information , please contact:

Cyclone Idai leaves trail of death, destruction and homelessness in southern Africa

 
 
 
Oxfam will be responding with water, sanitation services, food and other non-food items to people affected by Cyclone Idai that hit Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe on March 14-15. Scores of people have been killed, several hundred more are still missing and almost a million have been left destitute and in need of aid and basic services.
 
Winds of up to 140 km/h destroyed farmlands and damaged houses, some beyond repair. Damage is likely to run into millions of dollars. The Presidents of Zimbabwe and Mozambique have both declared a national disaster. 
 
Oxfam teams are assessing the needs of people worst affected in all three countries. They are reporting extensive damage to homes, crops, roads and bridges, and communications. Some areas have been rendered impassable with roads and bridges and phone lines having been washed away. 
 
“We are still gathering data from the field. It’s clear that three provinces of Zambezia, Sofala and Tete have been hit particularly hard. Information is still trickling in. It is likely that Oxfam will respond in Zambezia and Beira at least,” said Lyn Chinembiri, Oxfam Zimbabwe's Humanitarian Manager in Mozambique. 
 
Oxfam has activated its new “Emergency Response Team” of water and sanitation, food and livelihood experts to assess the chaos. They too have been hampered by broken roads, communications and continuing bad weather.
 
In Malawi, the United Nations estimates that 739,000 people have been affected, exacerbated by floods that hit the country two weeks ago. Oxfam teams are assessing people’s needs in Phalombe and Mulanje districts, which were hit hard by floods.
 
Oxfam with support from the UNICEF in Mozambique and utilizing its emergency funding in Malawi, is initially planning a three month-long response in water, sanitation and hygiene work, including the provision of purifying tablets, buckets and hygiene kits as well food aid to vulnerable households.
 
In Mozambique, Oxfam is part of the COCASA consortium (with CARE, SCF and Concern) that is being led by the General Director of the National Institute of Disaster Management. COCASA is focusing on emergency shelter, water and sanitation services and other provisions and public service support.
 
Oxfam’s Southern Africa Regional Director, Nellie Nyangwa, said: "We regret the loss of life, and the first few days were difficult days as official agencies focused on saving lives and trying to assess the impact of the floods in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. We expect that there will be over a million people affected in the region. We are already beginning to focus on work that will help recover people's livelihoods, prevent water borne diseases, and protect displaced people, with a key focus on women and children."
 
For more information , please contact:
 
ROI:     Nyle Lennon on 083 197 5107 / nyle.lennon@oxfam.org
 
NI:        Phillip Graham on 07841 102535 / phillip.graham@oxfam.org
 

 

Three civilians killed every day in Yemen despite Stockholm agreements

Three civilians are being killed every day in Yemen – that’s one person every eight hours – despite agreements reached between the internationally recognised government and the Houthis at talks in Sweden just over three months ago.
 
In December last year the two parties agreed a ceasefire for the key port of Hudaydah, as well as a prisoner exchange, as the first steps towards negotiating peace in Yemen, where fighting escalated four years ago on 26th March 2015.
 
In the 11 weeks following the agreements, 231 civilians were killed across the country in airstrikes, shelling, by sniper or landmines. A third of those killed were in Hudaydah governorate, despite the cease fire there.
 
56 of those killed were children – a number that would fill two classrooms in the average UK primary school. (Affiliates can adapt this and make a comparison relevant to their market.)
 
The civilian death toll has dropped in the wake of the UN sponsored talks in Sweden; the UN recently reported almost 100 civilians a week were being killed or injured in 2018. But it remains unacceptably high.
 
Muhsin Siddiquey, Oxfam’s Yemen Country Director, said: “Every day that passes without concrete progress towards peace, more Yemenis lose their lives and the suffering deepens for those struggling to find food and shelter amid the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.
 
“The backers of the warring parties are complicit in this man-made crisis; we call on them to stop arming the belligerents. They and the rest of the international community need to do all they can to help bring about a lasting peace in Yemen.”
 
Aside from fatalities, the war continues to take a toll on civilians in other ways. Millions of Yemenis are on the brink of famine due to the withering economy and the closure of key ports to vital food supplies. Oxfam recently met a family forced to make the difficult choice to marry off their three-year-old daughter so that her parents could use the money to buy food and shelter for other family members.
 
Siddiquey added: “Governments that continue to sell arms to any party to the conflict are prolonging and deepening the suffering of millions of Yemenis.
 
“The fighting needs to stop and the governments allowing arms sales for use in Yemen  should instead focus their efforts on securing peace.”
 
Notes to editors
 
Data on the number of civilian deaths has been provided by the UN Civilian Impact Monitoring Project (CIMP). It is unverified open source information but is the only regular reporting mechanism of casualties by the UN.
 
The CIMP data shows 231 civilians died between 13th December 2018, when the talks in Sweden concluded, and 28th February 2019, including 56 children and 43 women. 81 of these fatalities occurred in Hudaydah governorate.
 
ENDS
 
CONTACT: Spokespeople are available for interview. For more, please contact: Alice Dawson-Lyons at alice.dawsonlyons@oxfam.org or +353 (0) 83 198 1869
 
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Lorraine Keane and a host of fashion and entertainment stars launch fundraiser extravaganza FASHION RELIEF – now nationwide!

 

TV presenter rolls out events in Cork, Dublin and Galway in aid of Oxfam Ireland

TV presenter Lorraine Keane brought together Ireland’s favourite fashionable stars today to launch FASHION RELIEF 2019 as the fundraiser extravaganza goes nationwide in aid of Oxfam Ireland.

Keane teamed up with Miriam O’Callaghan, Maia Dunphy, Noel Cunningam, Mary Kennedy, James Patrice, Clémentine MacNeice, Joe Conlan, Triona McCarthy, Sarah McGovern, Laura Woods, Mo Kelly, Cathy O’Connor, Caroline Morahan, Teo Sutra and Joanne Northey to call on the public to join them at three FASHION RELIEF events across the country in 2019.

Following the success of the first fundraiser in Dublin in May 2018, events will now be held in Cork’s City Hall on Sunday 17 February, Dublin’s RDS on Sunday 10 March and Galway’s Galmont Hotel on Sunday 31 March.

Each event will offer people the unique opportunity to bag a bargain from the wardrobe of their style icon or beloved brand, boutique or designer, all while raising vital funds for Oxfam’s work in some of the world’s poorest countries.

With donations from stars like Saoirse Ronan, Vogue Williams, Dáithí Ó Sé, Mary Kennedy, Miriam O’Callaghan, Rob Kearney, Anna Geary, James Patrice and more – as well as event host Lorraine Keane – FASHION RELIEF is not-to-be-missed.

Attendees of each event will also enjoy two free fashion shows and get fashion advice and top tips from leading Irish stylists and social influencers on the day.

Lorraine Keane is calling on the Irish public to join her in Cork, Dublin and Galway: “We were blown away by the success of our first ever FASHION RELIEF in May 2018, including the incredible generosity we experienced from the Irish public, our corporate and media partners and designers, boutiques and brands across the country.

“This year, we’re determined to make it bigger and better – starting by taking the show on the road! We’re so excited to bring FASHION RELIEF back to Dublin’s RDS but also to fashion-savvy shoppers in Cork and Galway.

“Over the last few weeks, stock has been pouring in from a host of amazing designers, retailers and of course, celebrities and influencers. Now I’m calling on people across Dublin, Cork, Galway and beyond to join us on the day and bag yourself a bargain. By buying your ticket in advance, you’ll skip the queues and ensure you don’t miss any of the action, including two fabulous free fashion shows.

“If you want to do more, you could even donate your own pre-loved clothes and accessories for sale on the day, get your workplace on board to do a bigger donation drive, or volunteer to staff your own stall at the events – why not get some friends together and make a day of it?”

All profits will support Oxfam’s work in some of the world’s poorest countries, helping people to lift themselves out of poverty and thrive as well as saving lives when disaster strikes.

Keane continued: “In November 2018, I had the privilege of travelling to Ethiopia to see Oxfam’s work there and how the money raised through FASHION RELIEF could help people facing hunger and poverty. It was the most difficult part of this journey so far but also the most rewarding. I met a little five-year-old girl called Samia who, in the midst of the devastation surrounding her – hunger, disease, violence – beamed the most beautiful smile and reminded me of my own daughters. I met people who are lifting themselves out of poverty through innovative farming techniques and saw families forced to flee because of hunger, drought and conflict receive life-saving aid like clean, safe water.

“The are many reasons to join me at FASHION RELIEF but the most important is that we’ll be raising vital funds for Oxfam’s work across the world – funds that will help make sure children like Samia have the future they deserve. Get your ticket today and together, we’ll beat hunger and poverty for good.”

FASHION RELIEF 2019 will take place in:

  • City Hall, Cork on Sunday 17 February from 11am – 5pm
  • RDS, Dublin on Sunday 10 March from 11am – 5pm and
  • Galmont Hotel, Galway on Sunday 31 March from 11am – 5pm

Tickets for each event are just €10 and available at www.fashionrelief.ie. For more information on tickets, organising a donation drive or volunteering on the day, email IRL-fashionrelief@oxfam.org or call 01 672 7662.

ENDS

CONTACT: Interviews, images – including of Lorraine Keane’s trip to Ethiopia – and more information available on request contact Alice Dawson-Lyons on  alice.dawsonlyons@oxfam.org / +353 (0) 83 198 1869

 

 

Biggest-ever waste treatment plant in a refugee camp is ‘step forward’ for safer human waste disposal in emergencies

Author: Kelsey-Rae Taylor, Oxfam New Zealand
 
 
Oxfam has opened the largest human waste treatment plant ever built in a refugee camp, in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. The industrial-scale plant, funded by the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, can process the waste of 150,000 people – a population bigger than Tauranga. 
Being able to treat large volumes of faecal waste on site, rather than having to transport it elsewhere, is a big step forward in how to safely and sustainably dispose of such waste in emergencies. 
 
Last year more than 200,000 cases of acute diarrhoea were reported in the Rohingya camps, as well as respiratory infections and skin diseases like scabies – all related to poor sanitation and hygiene. 
 
Over seven months, Oxfam engineers and Rohingya refugees have built the massive system which has been specially designed for the steep, hilly terrain and to have the cheapest possible operation and maintenance costs. 
 
A suitable site was provided by the Government of Bangladesh and the project was delivered in collaboration with the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner's Office in Cox’s Bazar.   
  
Oxfam water and sanitation engineer Salahuddin Ahmmed said: “Safe sanitation is vital to prevent outbreaks of disease but disposing safely of human waste in the world’s biggest refugee camp is a major challenge. This ecological plant will help to keep refugees healthy by treating 40 cubic meters of waste a day – a huge amount. The initial investment is well worth it because the plant is cheap and easy to run and could last for 20 years – benefitting local communities when this emergency is over. We expect to replicate this model in future crises.” 
 
In emergencies, the most common method of waste disposal is to use tankers to suck out the sewage from latrines and take it away. But around 85 per cent of the world’s refugees are in developing countries, often lacking adequate sewage systems to deal with all this extra waste. Treating it on site reduces the risk that it will which end up being dumped in a field or polluting a local stream. 
 
The new, ecological plant, made up of treatment ponds and wetlands, is safe for people and the environment. It has multiple treatment stages to prevent contamination of local water sources and a high-density polyethylene liner and covered anaerobic unit to stop unpleasant odours escaping. 
 
The plant also produces biogas – Oxfam is exploring how to get this to refugee families to cook with. 
 
Aki is an 18-year-old Rohingya refugee who works as a community volunteer for Oxfam, talking to fellow refugees about good hygiene, handwashing, and keeping toilets clean. After a tour of the new plant, she said she had a better understanding of how her work is part of Oxfam’s wider efforts to stop outbreaks of disease. 
 
Aki said: “I didn’t know what happened to all the waste from the latrines. I’m happy that Oxfam has built this plant as it will help prevent the spread of diseases. Last year lots of people were sick with serious diarrhea. But we are seeing improvements. We can tell our community that this plant is doing something that will help for the future, and maybe also produce cooking gas. It’s great.” 
 
Close to a million Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh still need food, water, shelter and other essential aid to survive. Oxfam is calling for more aid and resources to improve conditions beyond the basics and keep people safe. 
 
Oxfam is providing vital aid including clean water and food vouchers to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, and has so far reached at least 266,000 people. 
 
Notes to editors: 
 
The plant was designed by a German organisation called BORDA - specialists in sanitation systems in developing countries. 
 
In 2018 there were more than 200,000 cases of acute diarrhoea reported in the Cox’s Bazar camps, according to the WHO and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. 
 
The UN calculates that 85 per cent of refugees are in developing countries. 
 
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