Press Releases

Cholera killing one person almost every hour in Yemen


Oxfam calls for massive aid effort and immediate ceasefire.

Yemen is in the grip of a runaway cholera epidemic that is killing one person almost every hour and if not contained will threaten the lives of thousands of people in the coming months, Oxfam warned today. The aid agency is calling for an urgent, largescale aid effort and an immediate ceasefire in Yemen to allow health and aid workers to tackle the outbreak. 

According to the World Health Organisation, in the five weeks between 27 April and 3 June 2017, 676 people died of cholera and over 86,000 were suspected of having the disease. Last week the rate jumped to 2,777 suspected cases a day from 2,529 a day during the previous week. Given Yemen’s neglected medical reporting system and the widespread nature of the epidemic, these official figures are likely to be under reporting the full scale of the crisis. 

In the coming months there could be up to 150,000 cases of cholera, with some predictions as high as 300,000 cases. 

The cholera crisis comes on top of two years of brutal war which has decimated the health, water and sanitation systems, severely restricted the essential imports the country is dependent upon and left millions of people one step away from famine. 

Colm Byrne, Oxfam Ireland’s Humanitarian Manager, said: “Yemen is on the edge of an abyss. Two years of war has plunged the country into one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, leaving it facing devastating famine. Now it is at the mercy of a deadly and rapidly spreading cholera epidemic. 

“Cholera is simple to prevent and treat but while the fighting continues, that task is made difficult and at times impossible. Lives hang in the balance - a massive aid effort is needed now. Those backing this war in Western and Middle Eastern capitals need to put pressure on all parties to the fighting to agree an immediate ceasefire to allow public health and aid workers to get to work saving lives.”

Oxfam said that the outbreak is set to be one of the worst this century if there is not a massive and immediate effort to bring it under control. It is calling on rich countries and international agencies to generously deliver on promises of $1.2bn of aid they made last month.

Money, essential supplies and technical support are needed to strengthen Yemen's embattled health, water and sanitation services. Health workers and water engineers have not been paid for months while hospitals, health centres, public water systems have been destroyed and starved of key items, such as medical supplies, chlorine and fuel. Even basic supplies such as intravenous fluids, oral rehydration salts and soap are urgently needed to enable an effective, speedy response - some of which will have to be flown into the country. Communities also need to be supported with their efforts to prevent the disease spreading and quickly treat people showing the first signs of infection. 

Oxfam Ireland is appealing to the public to donate to its hunger crisis appeal and support people facing famine in Yemen, as well as in East Africa, South Sudan and Nigeria:  


CONTACT: For interviews or more information, contact:

ROI: Alice Dawson on 00353 (0) 83 198 1869 /  

NI: Phillip Graham on 0044 (0) 7841 102535 /

Notes to Editors: 

Stats on cholera outbreak:

Cholera is easily prevented with simple and affordable efforts at home and in the community, such as disinfection of water with chlorine, safe collection and storage of water, washing hands with soap, and understanding the myths, behaviours associated with cholera. When people suspect they have the symptoms they can drink a mix salt and sugar to rehydrate them while they make their way to the medical centre. 


As 30 million face famine, G7 leaders must pay up and push for peace

G7 leaders meeting in Taormina, Sicily tomorrow (Friday 26 May) should show leadership in fighting famine and immediately fund their fair share of the UN’s urgent appeal for $6.3 billion for those suffering in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, urged Oxfam.

Without an immediate and far-reaching response, this crisis will spiral out of control and more lives will be lost.

To date, no G7 country has provided its fair share of funding for all four countries – if they did, they would raise almost half ($2.9 billion) of the total required, Oxfam estimates.

Deadly famine is already affecting 100,000 people in parts of South Sudan and threatens to extend to Yemen, Somalia and northeast Nigeria. Widespread famine across all four countries is not yet inevitable, but G7 leaders need to respond immediately. 

Jim Clarken, Chief Executive of Oxfam Ireland, said: “Political failure has led to this crisis and now political leadership is needed to resolve it. The world’s most powerful leaders must act now to prevent a catastrophe happening on their watch. A massive injection of aid is urgently required, backed by a concerted diplomatic push to bring an end to the long-standing conflicts that are driving this hunger crisis.

“Currently the UN appeal for people facing famine in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen is only 30 percent funded overall. It is hugely regrettable that none of the G7 nations has provided its fair share of funding to all four countries at risk of famine while thousands of people are already dying from disease and extreme hunger.

“While we welcome the Irish Government’s commitments to respond to this crisis, we urge them to work with G7 leaders and other international donors to ensure that the substantial funding needs are immediately met, including by increased assistance from Ireland. The UK is doing more than most having given its fair share of aid to three out of four affected countries - South Sudan, Yemen and Somalia, but needs to deliver on its promises to provide more help to people at risk of starvation in Nigeria.

“As Ireland moves towards the 2020 UN Security Council election, our leaders should leverage Ireland’s influence at EU and UN level to stop countries being arms brokers but encourage them to become peace brokers. Conflict has driven millions of people from their homes, disrupting their ability to provide for themselves and their families. Sieges and shelling and violence is preventing aid agencies like Oxfam from reaching people in desperate need of food and water. This is unacceptable and is leaving people to suffer and die.”

In 2015, the G7 committed to lift 500 million people out of hunger and malnutrition, yet 30 million people across the four countries are now experiencing severe hunger - 10 million of whom are facing emergency and famine conditions. Famine and hunger are the glaring symptoms of larger challenges that include conflict and migration.  

In addition to funding the UN appeal, G7 leaders should press for immediate ceasefires and inclusive peace processes, as well as for safe access to places where aid agencies are having trouble reaching people in need.

In Yemen, countries including G7 members continue to supply weapons, munitions, military equipment, technology, or logistical and financial support for military action that is in contravention of the rules of war. In South Sudan, three years of conflict have displaced more than 3.5 million people – including 2 million children. Somalia also remains an active conflict where access is limited by Al Shabaab, as well as other parties involved in the conflict. Nigeria’s conflict has spread into neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon forcing 2.6 million people to flee and leaving nearly 11 million people in need of emergency aid. 

When G7 leaders have chosen a symbolic place to meet in Sicily – Europe’s coast, where thousands of people have died trying to reach safety and security – it is reprehensible that they are set to overlook the suffering of refugees and migrants on their doorstep, and ignore the challenge of migration and forced displacement. Rich countries should lean into this challenge, exercise positive global leadership and compassion, and agree to concrete steps that protect the dignity and rights of people on the move.


NB: Oxfam is attending the G7 summit with spokespeople available for interview on the hunger crisis in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen as well as on migration and inequality.

Oxfam can also offer journalists the opportunity to visit some of our programmes supporting refugees and migrants in Catania, Sicily.

For more information, contact:

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Alice Dawson on 00353 (0) 83 198 1869 /

NORTHERN IRELAND: Phillip Graham on 0044 (0) 7841 102535 /

Notes to Editors 

1.     The Group of Seven (G7) is comprised of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

2.     Download Oxfam’s latest policy report on what governments need to do to avert the threat of global famine:

3.     The UN ‘four famines’ appeal was originally launched for a total of $5.6 billion  and was later revised up to $6.3 billon after the Somalia response plan was updated in earlier this month

4.     There has been a rise of 40 percent in the number of people experiencing acute food insecurity over the last two years according to FEWSNET:

5.     Oxfam’s fair share analysis: Oxfam calculates its fair share analysis by comparing data from the UN’s Financial Tracking System (FTS) and information received from G7 members with their national income. No G7 country has provided its fair share of funding for all four nations facing famine. (The FTS website may not have been updated with recent pledges.)

According to UN figures, as of May 18, only 30 percent of the $6.3 billion needed has been received. Country by country, this means that Nigeria is only 21 percent funded; Somalia, 33 percent; South Sudan, 42 percent; and Yemen, 21 percent.

G7 leaders must commit to fund their fair share for each country, while pressing other donors to do their part, in order to prevent more people from dying of hunger. These contributions alone would mean $492 million for Nigeria, $703 million for Somalia, $764 million for South Sudan, and $964 million for Yemen.

G7 must also commit to increase aid for longer term solutions that build resilience and improve food security and nutrition, in order to prevent further crises from escalating into disasters. 

Only one G7 leader (UK) has provided its fair share for Yemen, two (UK and Canada) for South Sudan, two (UK and Germany) for Somalia and two (Canada and Germany) for Nigeria. 

The United States Congress commitment of $990m to address famine in the four countries is welcomed, but this must be urgently translated into aid on the ground if the impact of famines is to be reduced. 

View or download Oxfam’s fair share analysis here:

6.     About 30 million people are are experiencing alarming levels of hunger in Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen - 10 million of them are facing emergency and famine conditions. (10 million people are at IPC4 and 5, and a further 20 million people are at IPC3.)

• South Sudan: 4.9 million people dangerously hungry (IPC Phases 3-5, including 100,000 already in famine) 

• Yemen: 17 million people dangerously hungry (IPC Phases 3-4) 

• Somalia: 3.2 million people dangerously hungry in Somalia (IPC Phases 3-4) 

• Nigeria: 4.7 million people dangerously hungry in northeast Nigeria (IPC Phases 3-5)

7.     Oxfam is responding directly and with local organisations across the affected countries delivering food and other essential aid including cash so that people can buy from local markets. It is striving to ensure people have clean water to be used for drinking, cooking, washing and sanitation and to fight waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea and cholera. We are also helping vulnerable communities, focusing especially on women, to stay safe and access aid in these unstable circumstances. 


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Public urged to ‘banish bursting wardrobes’ by donating unwanted items to Oxfam shops

“Set yourself free from stuff and help our shops fight poverty,” says charity

Wednesday May 17th, 2017

Oxfam Ireland is launching a donation drive to encourage the public to banish bursting wardrobes, clear out those cupboards and take back the toyboxes – by donating to their local Oxfam shop.

Michael McIlwaine, Oxfam Ireland’s Head of Retail, said: “Set yourself free from stuff, get your space back and help in the fight against poverty, by clearing out those wardrobes and cupboards that have been crying out for your attention – and then donate the unwanted clutter to your local Oxfam shop.

“The clothes that don’t fit, the teapot too many, or the DVD double-up – you don’t have to live with it. It's satisfying to unburden yourself of the clutter other people are looking for and will love.

“It is a great solution for everyone. Not only does it liberate precious floor and storage space in our homes it also raises money for people in desperate circumstances across the world. Just grab a bag and bring your unwanted stuff into your local Oxfam shop – cutting out the clutter feels good, but ending poverty feels even better.”

“There are so many ways your unwanted items could be given a second life in Oxfam’s fight against poverty – which is why we urgently need your donations.

“An average bag of your pre-loved donated stuff – like clothes, books, music, DVDs and homewares – can raise enough money to help two vulnerable families buy desperately needed food in an emergency. Or buy five buckets specially designed to keep water clean and disease-free. A jumper worth €16/£13 could provide 50 bars of soap for 50 Syrian refugees, preventing the spread of disease,” added Mr McIlwaine.

Donations to the charity’s shops will raise vital funds and enable Oxfam to continue its life-saving work in humanitarian crises, including responding to the hunger crisis in South Sudan, north-eastern Nigeria, Somalia and war-torn Yemen. About 30 million people across these four countries are in desperate need of food to survive with famine already declared in South Sudan. Oxfam is currently providing food, clean water, sanitation and other essentials to people in need.

Oxfam shops are appealing for donations of clothing and shoes; books, toys and games; CDs, vinyl and DVDs; homewares; pictures and collectables; bags, accessories and jewellery, rugs, linen and curtains. A number of Oxfam Ireland shops can also take: furniture; wedding dresses and accessories; cameras and mobile phones; stamps and coins.

Oxfam’s stores are also looking for additional enthusiastic people eager to volunteer in the shops. If you feel you can help fight poverty by volunteering, or have any questions about donating stock, please contact the manager of your local Oxfam shop, or (01) 672 7662 (ROI) or 028 90 230 220 (NI). Find your nearest Oxfam Ireland shop on



REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Alice Dawson on 00353 (0) 83 198 1869 /

NORTHERN IRELAND: Phillip Graham on 0044 (0) 7841 102535 /

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Oxfam helps refugees to find safety without risking their lives at sea

Last year’s Mediterranean death toll equivalent to nearly 3 Irish Ferries’ Ulysses boats sinking

First families arrive in Italy to seek asylum under new safe and regular routes programme

Monday May 1st, 2017

With an average of nine people dying each day so far this year trying to cross the Mediterranean, Oxfam has joined an innovative new programme which provides an alternative and safer route.

The ‘Humanitarian Corridors’ initiative aims to reduce the number of people forced to risk their lives in perilous sea crossings or endure long and dangerous journeys over land in order to reach safety. It supports people to reach Europe via safe and regular routes in order to claim asylum.

Over 60 people from Syria, including many families, arrived in Italy last week to seek asylum as part of a humanitarian visa programme approved by the Italian government. These people will be hosted by Oxfam in the Italian region of Tuscany for the duration of this process.

Jim Clarken, Oxfam Ireland Chief Executive, said: “In 2016 over 5,000 people lost their lives crossing the Mediterranean – the same as almost three Irish Ferries’ Ulysses boats sinking in the sea. We cannot grow immune to these numbers and we cannot allow this year to be the same as the last.

Many of those 5,000 people were fleeing unimaginable situations – conflict that robbed them of their homes, livelihoods and loved ones, persecution, poverty and disaster. Getting into an unseaworthy boat is a last resort, a desperate attempt to reach safety and dignity. Through the ‘Humanitarian Corridors’ programme, we are now offering people in need an alternative to the last resort so that they can reach Europe safely.”

‘Humanitarian Corridors’ is the first project of its kind and a good example of how civil society and EU governments can work together to effectively protect and integrate refugees. It aims to support 500 people from different regions in 2017 that are currently located in three transit countries – Lebanon, Morocco and Ethiopia. 

Oxfam in Italy has now joined and will host Syrian refugees in reception facilities. Oxfam will also provide legal assistance and help people to access cultural mediation services and Italian language courses, as well as work and education mentorship for up to 250 people.

Fatem, a 28-year-old mother of two from Syria, part of the first group hosted by Oxfam in Italy, said: “We just want to be happy. We don’t want to live in constant fear that we will not be able to make it through the day. My children deserve a chance at a better future.”

Mr Clarken continued: “This programme shows that it is possible to provide more humane routes to Europe with government support. The alternative leaves people no choice but to turn to smugglers and use increasingly dangerous routes that risk their lives. Too often, in the desperate search for safety, families are torn apart and there is no guarantee they will be reunited again. Safe and legal routes are essential to keeping people safe and families together.

“In 2015, the Irish government committed to receiving 4,000 refugees through the Irish Refugee Protection Programme by the end of 2017. However, less than 900 people have arrived so far. We urgently need to find ways to overcome obstacles and stay on track to meet this commitment. If we cannot bring 4,000 people to safety in Ireland through the current mechanisms, Ireland must consider alternative schemes such as the Humanitarian Corridors project. The last time countries turned away refugees en masse was during the Second World War. We must act urgently to help people who need protection.”

Oxfam is calling on the Irish government to improve access to protection for those in need by taking concrete action to ensure that its commitments under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme are met, including through tackling barriers to relocation from Greece and Italy and increasing the use of humanitarian visas as a safe route to seeking asylum in Ireland. In addition, Oxfam is calling on the Government to expand opportunities for family reunification to ensure that families can stay together in their time of need.

Oxfam is also calling on European governments to urgently improve access to international protection for those fleeing conflict and persecution, including through humanitarian visas. In addition, more flexible family reunification policies and more resettlement programmes are needed. The agency has called on rich countries, including European nations, to resettle or offer other forms of admission to 10 percent of the Syrian refugee population by the end of 2017.


ROI: Alice Dawson on 00353 (0) 83 198 1869 /

NI: Phillip Graham on 0044 (0) 7841 102535 /

Oxfam spokespeople are available, including from Brussels and in Florence, Italy. Jim Clarken, Oxfam Ireland Chief Executive, visited Oxfam’s programme with unaccompanied minors in Italy last year and is available for interview

Photos of the Syrians arriving in Italy are available here:

Notes to editors:

  • 1,089 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean in the first four months of this year, the equivalent of nine people per day.
  • During the first four months of 2016 – the deadliest year so far for refugees and migrants trying to reach Europe – 1,266 people died, 177 more than in 2017. Statistics re the number of lives lost in the Mediterranean were taken from
  • The Humanitarian Corridors programme was conceived by three faith-based organisations – the Sant’Egidio Community, the Union of Methodist Churches and the Waldensian Church – with Italian government permission.
  •  The programme selects people who are either likely to be recognised as refugees in Italy according to the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR, or particularly vulnerable people, for example those who have been abused, unaccompanied minors, women on their own, families with children and elderly or ill people
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Yemen needs both aid and peace to avert famine, warns Oxfam

April 24th 2017

More money is urgently needed to ease the humanitarian suffering in Yemen but aid alone is no substitute for reviving efforts to bring about peace, Oxfam said, as ministers gather in Geneva for a high level pledging event.

The United Nations hopes to raise US$2.1 billion to deliver life-saving humanitarian assistance to Yemen but the appeal – intended to provide vital help to 12 million people – is only 14 percent funded [as of 18th April]. According to the UN, Yemen has become the world’s worst humanitarian crisis with nearly seven million people facing starvation.

Colm Byrne, Oxfam Ireland's Humanitarian Manager, said: “Donors need to put their hands in their pockets and fully fund the appeal to prevent people dying now. But while aid will provide welcome relief it will not heal the wounds of war that are the cause of Yemen’s misery. International backers need to stop fuelling the conflict, make it clear that famine is not an acceptable weapon of war and exert real pressure on both sides to restart peace talks.”

While aid is desperately needed to save lives now, many more people will die unless the de-facto blockade is lifted and major powers stop fuelling the conflict and instead put pressure on all sides to pursue peace. The two-year conflict has so far killed more than 7,800 people, forced over 3 million people from their homes and left 18.8 million people – 70 per cent of the population – in need of humanitarian assistance. 

And Yemen's food crisis could become even more severe if the international community does not send a clear message that a possible attack against Al-Hudaydah – the entry point for an estimated 70 per cent of Yemen's food imports – would be totally unacceptable.

Several countries, including the UK, the US, Spain, France, Germany, Canada, Australia, and Italy, are attending the event while they continue to sell billions of dollars’ worth of weapons to parties to the conflict. The UK Government has approved arms export licences for £3.3bn worth of military equipment to Saudi Arabia in the past two years. It has also provided military experts to advise the Saudi Arabian armed forces.

Colm Byrne continued: “If the parties to the conflict – and those fuelling it with arm sales – continue to ignore Yemen's food crisis, they will be responsible for a famine.

“Many areas of Yemen are on the brink of famine, and the cause of such extreme starvation is political. That is a damning indictment of world leaders but also a real opportunity – they have the power to bring the suffering to an end.”

Yemen was experiencing a humanitarian crisis even before this latest escalation in the conflict two years ago, but successive appeals for Yemen have been repeatedly underfunded; respectively 58 percent and 62 percent in 2015 and 2016, equivalent to $1.9 billion over the past two years. On the other hand, over $10 billion worth of arms sales were made to warring parties since 2015, five times the amount of the Yemen 2017 UN appeal.

Oxfam is calling on donors and international agencies to return to the country and to increase their efforts, to respond to this massive humanitarian crisis before it is too late.

Oxfam is also calling on the public to donate to its hunger crisis appeal and raise vital funds for people facing famine in Yemen as well as in East Africa, South Sudan and Nigeria: 


For interviews or more information, contact:

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Alice Dawson on 00353 (0) 83 198 1869 /  

NORTHERN IRELAND: Phillip Graham on 0044 (0) 7841 102535 /


The number of people in need as a result of Yemen’s conflict continues to rise, but the international aid response has failed to keep up. For more information on which donor governments are pulling their weight, and which are not, download our Fair Share Analysis, "Yemen on the brink of famine"

Oxfam has reached more than a million people in eight governorates of Yemen with water and sanitation services, cash assistance, food vouchers and other essential aid since July 2015. 

Oxfam is also calling on the public to donate to its hunger crisis appeal and raise vital funds for people facing famine in Yemen as well as in East Africa, South Sudan and Nigeria: 




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