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25 humanitarian organisations and NGOs urge EU leaders to “provide a lifeline” to Afghan refugees at the Forum on providing protection for Afghans at risk

25 humanitarian organisations and NGOs are jointly urging EU leaders to expand safe and legal pathways from Afghanistan and the region. The call reiterates recommendations outlined in a joint statement released on 16 September that called on the EU and its Member States to live up to their commitments to refugee protection and humanitarian leadership, and share responsibilities with countries neighbouring Afghanistan. The upcoming Forum on providing protection for Afghans at risk, planned for Thursday 7 October, provides a key chance for them to do so.

The organisations are pressing leaders to seize this opportunity to:

  1. Make ambitious pledges to resettle at least 36,000 refugees identified by UNHCR as in need of resettlement across different regions in 2022. This must be in addition to launching a dedicated scheme to resettle Afghan refugees from neighbouring countries, including those in a protracted situation.

    Resettlement can provide a durable solution for refugees in need, while strengthening the capacity of states in the region to continue offering protection.
  2.  

  3. In addition to resettlement, use all available legal pathways to immediately bring people in need of protection to safety from Afghanistan and the region, with predictable and secure protection upon arrival. This includes, for instance, an expanded and flexible use of family reunification, humanitarian visas, community sponsorships, as well as higher education scholarship and work visas.

    Such pathways will provide a lifeline to people with urgent protection needs, and prevent them from making dangerous border crossings in search of safety. It remains crucial, however, that evacuations and humanitarian admissions remain additional to resettlement and are not counted towards annual resettlement quotas.
  4.  

  5. Uphold access to a fair and full asylum process for Afghan and other nationals in Europe, while supporting their inclusion, integration and participation in society. These pathways to safety cannot replace the right for Afghan and other asylum seekers to seek protection in Europe, no matter how they reach the territory. Among others, all rejected asylum cases of Afghan nationals must be urgently reviewed, deportations to the region must be formally suspended in line with the principle of non-refoulement, and any pushbacks or denial of access to asylum or reception for asylum seekers in Europe must be promptly investigated and sanctioned by EU institutions.

In recent weeks, the European Commission, European Parliament, regions and cities, and civil society have led the way in showing solidarity with Afghan refugees and calling for significant and urgent pathways to safety. European leaders must now follow suit.


END

Notes to editors

Read the joint statement released on 16 September that called on the EU and its Member States to live up to their commitments to refugee protection and humanitarian leadership, and share responsibilities with countries neighbouring Afghanistan.

Thank You For Saying Yes to Second Hand September

We did it! You took a stand by saying YES TO SECOND HAND for the month of September.

Together, we diverted clothing from landfill and turned up the volume on the many issues surrounding throwaway fashion. By posting your amazing #SecondHandSeptember finds you also helped to change perceptions of second hand shopping while inspiring others to reuse, rewear and recycle.

Thank you so much for your support!

Together, we have the power to make long lasting and meaningful changes that will help protect –both the land we live on and the air we breath, and the workers rights of the women and men who make our clothes.

To combat the climate crisis, we need to continue voicing the urgency for change. This will not be an easy fix and there will be bumps on the journey to sustainable living, but all it takes for each of us is that first step –no matter how small!

We hope you’ve enjoyed being part of our third Second Hand September campaign and encourage you to continue your sustainable fashion choices by choosing second hand and donating your pre-loved clothes. It’s one practical way that we can combat and reduce the harmful effects of fast fashion on our planet and people.

By buying and donating your clothes through Oxfam shops and Fashion Relief, you can give them a second chance to be loved and increase their lifespan, while protecting the planet and raising money to help at risk communities across the world.

Just one purchase, could provide seeds to a small-scale farmer desperate to rebuild her livelihood after disaster strikes.

The power lies with you.

Thank you again!

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'Back to uni' looks from Oxfam and Fashion Relief

Vintage looks all sourced from Fashion Relief and Oxfam shops. Photo: Brian McEvoy

It's not too late to join us for Second Hand September!

Can you really update your wardrobe using only second-hand clothes? Judging by these brilliant buys that were #FoundInOxfam, it seems the answer is a resounding YES!

Over the past few weeks, students from Trinity College and UCD helped us celebrate #SecondHandSeptember with some 'back to uni' looks - and told us why they shop second hand!

Back to Uni Looks with Oxfam and Fashion Relief

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Vintage looks all sourced from Fashion Relief and Oxfam shops. Photo: Brian McEvoy
Vintage looks all sourced from Fashion Relief and Oxfam shops. Photo: Brian McEvoy
Vintage looks all sourced from Fashion Relief and Oxfam shops. Photo: Brian McEvoy

It's never too late to join us for Second Hand September. Check out Fashion Relief, our always-on platform, or pop into your local Oxfam shop today!

 

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From Volunteering to Shop Manager - My Journey with Oxfam Holywood

Fiona Anderson, Shop Manager at Oxfam Holywood

During the pandemic, thousands of people found themselves furloughed and not working for the first time in their adult lives. It was a tough transition for many as they struggled to fill their days with things to do. However, as the restrictions lifted the majority of people returned to their day jobs – at least those who were lucky enough to still have that option did. But Fiona Anderson from Holywood, County Down, discovered that what she did to fill up her days during lockdown was actually what she wanted to do full time and so she went about pursuing her passion.

Fiona had a successful career in communications but a stint volunteering in her local Oxfam charity changed all that.

"My friends and family call me the recycling queen because I constantly speak to people about recycling and living sustainably as it is really important to me. I was working in communications and last year the pandemic happened and I was furloughed. I didn't know what to do with myself, having worked since I was 14, so I went into my local Oxfam and volunteered. I had volunteered there while I was at school for with my best friend Rachel when we did our Duke Of Edinburgh Award and I decided to go back to help out with my spare time.

“In my previous role as a Digital Marketing Specialist I was working with some of Northern Ireland’s biggest brands creating digital strategy and running their social media accounts so I was keen to apply this to my volunteering role. A lot of charity shops miss out on implementing that strategic communications approach which a lot of other retailers are already doing. So I set up an Instagram page and from there it grew really quickly (all organic growth, whereas I was used to working for clients with healthy marketing budgets!)

"Suddenly we were aware of the huge demand for a social media presence for the shop. Charity shops aren't good at promoting themselves individually and there was a huge gap in the market for posting what we had available to attract people who wouldn't traditionally charity shop. This in partnership with the fact the pandemic happened, a lot of people were really strapped for cash and were looking for a new place to shop. I think we all re-evaluated what was important to us and there was a clear societal shift in attitude towards charity shopping which worked in our favour. We now have a really loyal following from eco-warriors to fashionistas and people who are just there for a bargain. It's been fantastic.”

I absolutely fell in love with the shop and the team, a fantastic bunch of characters of all ages – our oldest volunteer Barbara is 93! There is so much to learn from each of the volunteer’s experiences and expertise. I love people and I loved spending time with the volunteers and getting to know the regular customers.
Fiona, Shop Manager outside Oxfam Holywood

Fiona enjoyed her time volunteering that she made the huge decision when a full-time position came up in the store. She said: "I eventually returned to work but I just felt that my heart was in Oxfam. I was still volunteering at weekends but I was missing the shop and the people. So when a shop manager position became available, I took a leap of faith and applied. I was successful in getting the job and suddenly the shop that I had loved for so many years was actually mine!

"Once we reopened after the Christmas lockdown, Holywood Oxfam had the highest sales in Northern Ireland for the opening day out of all the Oxfam shops. This was due to the quality of the items and how we promoted our reopening across social media - we actually had a queue down the street at opening!”

Something I feel I probably underestimated was just how important a role the charity shop plays in people's lives in the local community, especially in a town like Holywood. People really struggled over lockdown not having that social interaction and I get told so often I'm the only person they have spoken to today. We have customers who are in the shop every day which is lovely to see, we also have volunteers from lots of different backgrounds. I am particularly passionate about encouraging and empowering young people, It is so fulfilling to watch them grow in confidence and build up their experience.
Shop Window and merchandising from Oxfam Holywood

“There is so much creativity involved in this job which I adore. From merchandising and decorating the shop to our unique window displays and handpicking the best clothing and homeware to showcase on social media. You have to be a bit of a jack of all trades as a charity shop manager, no two days are ever the same but I have really enjoyed my experience so far. We recently hosted a Harry Potter themed event which was a sell out, it’s fun to theme our displays to appeal to different audiences - we are really excited for Halloween this year and will have costumes to suit everyone.

Fiona believes this is a really exciting time for charity shops and encourages anyone who is thinking of volunteering or pursuing a career with Oxfam not to think twice about doing it. She said: "I have so many plans for the shop. Everyone is now getting behind the sustainable fashion movement and we are delighted about it as it has never been more important. There is a shift in attitude and it is so lovely to be a part of in a small way. I'm probably not a traditional charity shop manager, I had this promising career in communications but the last year just changed so much for me. It was an eye-opener and it just made me realise what is truly important. I now have such a great work/life balance as the shop opens at 10am and closes at 5pm whereas before I would be working until really late and taking my work home with me. It's all about prioritising what matters and doing what you are passionate about.

As Second Hand September approaches we have lots of exciting things planned including partnering with a personal stylist for a bespoke evening shopping event, a designer sale day and we have also just launched a TikTok account for our shop (@HolywoodOxfam). We will be encouraging all our followers to take the SHS pledge to only buy second hand for the whole month. You can keep up to date with everything we are up to via our Instagram, Facebook or Twitter page through the handle.

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Our planet has spoken and it demands climate action

Amid a world in parts burning, in parts drowning and in parts starving, the IPCC has just tabled the most undeniable wake-up call yet for global industry to switch from oil, gas and coal to renewables.

It is so important that our governments use everything in their power to bring into effect the urgent change that is needed to protect our future. And we, citizens of the world, must use our political power and behaviours to push big polluting corporations and governments in the right direction as there is no Plan B.

What is climate change?

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IPCC describes humanity’s slimmest chance to keep global warming to 1.5°C and avert planetary ruin and their report is yet more unimpeachable proof that climate change is happening now, and that global warming is already one of the most harmful drivers of worsening hunger and starvation, migration, poverty and inequality all over the world. 

In recent years, with 1°C of global heating, there have been deadly cyclones in Asia and Central America, floods in Europe and the UK, huge locust swarms across Africa, and unprecedented heatwaves and wildfires across the US, Turkey, Greece and Australia ―all turbo-charged by climate change.

Over the past 10 years, more people have been forced from their homes by extreme weather-related disasters than for any other single reason ―20 million a year, or one person every two seconds. The number of climate-related disasters has tripled in 30 years, with the UN estimating that 1.23 million people have died and 4.2 billion have been affected by droughts, floods and wildfires since 2020 alone. 

Rahela trying to catch fish for her family as they have nothing to eat after cyclone Bulbul. Gabura, Shamnagar. Photo: FabehaMonir/Oxfam

The richest one percent of people in the world, approximately 63 million people, are responsible for more than twice as much carbon pollution as the 3.1 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity. Those with money and power may take comfort in knowing they will be able to buy some protection against the effects of global warming for longer than people without those privileges and resources ―but can’t buy their way out of this problem forever. No one is safe. Our land, water and air is on the line, which means our survival as a species is on the line. The IPCC report is clear - we are at the stage now when self-preservation is either a collective process or a failed one. 

The main perpetrators of global warming ―that is, rich countries that have reaped massive wealth by burning fossil fuels― must be the ones to cut their emissions first, fastest and furthest. They must also pay their climate debt to developing countries by scaling up finance to help them adapt to the effects of climate change and transition to clean energy. Other major polluters don’t get a free pass and must also drastically cut emissions. The world has as much to gain in terms of human safety, development, opportunity and jobs by running a global economy on renewables, as it has to lose in continuing business-as-usual.

Very few nations ―and none of the world’s wealthy nations― have submitted climate plans consistent with keeping warming below 2°C, let alone 1.5°C. If global emissions continue to increase, the 1.5°C threshold could be breached as early as the next ten years.

The IPCC report must spur governments to act together and build a fairer and greener global economy to ensure the world stays within 1.5°C of warming. They must cement this in Glasgow. Wealthy country governments must meet their $100 billion-a-year promise to help the poorest countries grapple with the climate crisis.

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