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Ukraine Refugee Crisis Our Response

Registration centre in an old Tesco building. Oxfam staff present to discuss the needs. Photo: Tineke Dhaese/Oxfam

The war in Ukraine is threatening the lives and livelihoods of civilians and forcing millions to flee. Homes have been destroyed or are unsafe to live in. Families are being separated and people injured and killed. Heavy fighting, shelling and air strikes across Ukraine have had devastating consequences for its citizens. Critical infrastructure such as health facilities, water supplies and schools have been damaged or destroyed. Huge numbers of refugees are arriving into Poland, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Moldova and other neighbouring countries with only what they can carry.

Delivery of hygiene and sanitation items at Ukraine House. Photo: Tineke Dhaese/Oxfam

Oxfam is supporting the humanitarian system both in Ukraine, and specifically in Poland, Moldova and Romania to reach between 10-25% of affected people –up to 800,000 or more if possible –with what they need.

We are channelling our support, expertise and funding through local organisations –those who are working directly with the refugees themselves –helping them to expand their own capacities and impact.

Oxfam will ensure that this collective response is guided by humanitarian principlesof humanity, impartiality, independence and neutrality, and by using a feminist approachthat prioritises ways that prevent risks to women and girls and is informed always by gendered analysis.

Together with our partners, we are also advocating for more political and economic support, both internationally and nationally, to refugees so they are able to realise their rights, in safety and dignity.

Two disabled toilets in Medyka. Photo: Tineke Dhaese/Oxfam

Oxfam Response

Michelle Farrington, Hygiene and Sanitation Promotion in Poland discusses Oxfam’s Response. At the moment Oxfam is providing basic water and sanitation facilities and hygiene items that people can take while traveling on to their final destinations.

Michelle Farrington, Oxfam Hygiene & Sanitation Promotion - Ukraine Refugee Crisis Our Response

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Protection

Ola Perczynska, Protection Coordinator in Poland discussing Oxfam’s response. Ola is originally from Poland but has a long experience as a humanitarian in conflicts and crisis around the world.

Ola Perczynska, Protection Coordinator with Oxfam - Ukraine Refugee Crisis Our Response

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WASH

At a refugee centre in the border area of Korczowa in Poland. A shopping centre is being used to accommodate incoming Ukrainian refugees.

Angus Mc Bride, Wash Coordinator discusses Oxfam's response of installing shower facilities and hand washing stations to meet the health and hygiene needs at this centre.

Angus Mc Bride, Oxfam Wash Coordinator - Ukraine Refugee Crisis Our Response

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Work with Oxfam Partner

Oxfam is channeling around 44% of its funding response via national partners in Poland, Romania and Moldova; a further 18% via international partners in Ukraine itself; 30% on its own humanitarian aid, equipment, technical and operational response; and 9% on a Program Management Team that sets, and is accountable for, strategy, policy, management and administration of the entire response.

Lilya Kalinowska Volunteer Coordinator at Ukrainian House - Oxfam

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Lilya Kalinowska Volunteer Coordinator at Ukrainian House talks about working with Oxfam and the start of this partnership. Oxfam is meeting the immediate hygiene needs and plans to develop this to provide more longer term logistical, sanitation and protection supports.

Thank you to all who have supported our work. In Poland, Oxfam have already reached more than 225,000 people. We are concentrating on protection, water and sanitation, and food and economic security. We are providing cash and basic sanitation facilities for families in need of urgent assistance.

Equal Right To Refuge Campaign

Oxfam has worked on migration and displacement within Europe since 2015. With our partner organisations we have assisted more than 280,000 people in Greece, Italy, Spain, and the Balkans. Together we have provided them with legal aid, protection, water and sanitation activities, and distributed food and non-food items such as blankets and clothes. But not all refugees are being treated equally.

Equal Right To Refuge - Oxfam Ireland

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Millions of people have cross Ukraine’s border into neighbouring countries seeking safety and refuge. Wherever you come from, your right to seek safety and find refuge is the same. At the end of last year, the number of people forced to flee in search of refuge exceeded 84 million globally. At any border in Europe –Ukraine or beyond – we cannot have a system that treats people differently for any reason, including where they come from.

Pandemic saw billionaire bonanza while millions face cost of living crisis

Billionaires in the food and energy sectors are increasing their fortunes by $1 billion dollars every two days

Ahead of the World Economic Forum at Davos, Oxfam calls for an end to crisis profiteering

Billionaires’ wealth has risen more in the first 24 months of COVID-19 than in 23 years combined. The total wealth of the world’s billionaires is now equivalent to 13.9 percent of global GDP, up from 4.4 percent in 2000.

While billionaire wealth soars, it is expected that over a quarter of a million more people will be pushed into extreme poverty in 2022, according to a new briefing from Oxfam, Profiting from Pain. The briefing comes as the World Economic Forum — the exclusive get-together of the global elite in Davos — takes place face-to-face for the first time since COVID-19.

Jim Clarken, CEO, Oxfam Ireland said: “Billionaires arriving in Davos have seen an incredible surge in their fortunes. Simply put, the pandemic followed by the steep increases in food and energy prices have been a bonanza for them. Meanwhile, decades of progress on ending extreme poverty are now in reverse and millions of people are facing impossible rises in the cost of simply staying alive.”

The wealth of Ireland’s nine billionaires has increased by a massive €15.55 billion since the start of the pandemic, a 44 percent increase bringing it to €51 billion, while latest figures show that 691,587 people in Ireland are experiencing deprivation, of which 204,710 are children.

Globally, 573 people became new billionaires during the pandemic, at the rate of one every 30 hours. While this year, it is expected that 263 million more people will crash into extreme poverty, at a rate of a million people every 33 hours.

Oxfam’s new research also reveals that corporations in the energy, food and pharmaceutical sectors — where monopolies are especially common — are posting record-high profits, even as wages have barely budged and workers struggle with decades-high prices amid COVID-19. The fortunes of food and energy billionaires have risen by $453 billion in the last two years, equivalent to $1 billion every two days. Five of the largest energy companies are together making $2,600 profit every second, and there are now 62 new food billionaires.

In Ireland, five of the biggest Irish food companies have had a total profit rise of €174 million in just one year - in the last year of recorded profits. Meanwhile five of the best-known Irish energy companies had combined yearly profits rise of €280 million. Yearly inflation for energy products in Ireland is 43.6 percent. While food inflation in Ireland is currently at 3.5% in consumer price figures, wholesale prices are likely to push figures higher in the near future.

From Sri Lanka to Sudan, record-high global food prices are sparking social and political upheaval. 60 percent of low-income countries are on the brink of debt distress. While inflation is rising everywhere, price hikes are particularly devastating for low-wage workers whose health and livelihoods were already most vulnerable to COVID-19, particularly women, racialised and marginalised people. People in poorer countries spend more than twice as much of their income on food than those in rich countries.

Clarken continued: “It is unconscionable that some are profiteering from the pandemic and its aftermath while others are trying to choose between paying their energy bills or going hungry. Billionaires’ fortunes have not increased because they are smarter or working harder. Workers are working harder, for less pay and in worse conditions. The super-rich have rigged the global system with impunity for decades and they are now reaping the benefits. They have seized a shocking amount of the world’s wealth as a result of privatisation and monopolies, gutting regulation and workers’ rights while stashing their cash in tax havens — all with the complicity of governments.

“Meanwhile, millions of others are skipping meals, turning off the heating, falling behind on bills and wondering what they can possibly do next to survive. Across East Africa, one person is likely dying every minute from hunger. This grotesque inequality is breaking the bonds that hold us together as humanity. It is divisive, corrosive and dangerous. This is inequality that literally kills.”

“Government leaders in Davos face a choice: act as proxies for the billionaire class who plunder their economies or take bold steps to act in the interests of their great majorities.”

Oxfam recommends that governments, including Ireland’s, urgently:

  • Introduce one-off solidarity taxes on billionaires’ pandemic windfalls to fund support for people facing rising food and energy costs and a fair and sustainable recovery from COVID-19. Argentina adopted a one-off special levy dubbed the ‘millionaire’s tax’ and is now considering introducing a windfall tax on energy profits as well as a tax on undeclared assets held overseas to repay IMF debt.
  • End crisis profiteering by introducing a temporary excess profit tax of 90 percent to capture the windfall profits of big corporations across all industries. Oxfam estimated that such a tax on just 32 super-profitable multinational companies could have generated $104 billion in revenue in 2020. A windfall tax on energy companies in Ireland alone is estimated to raise €60 million.
  • Introduce permanent wealth taxes to rein in extreme wealth and monopoly power, as well as the outsized carbon emissions of the super-rich. An annual wealth tax on millionaires starting at just 2 percent, and 5 percent on billionaires, could generate $2.52 trillion a year —enough to lift 2.3 billion people out of poverty, make enough vaccines for the world, and deliver universal healthcare and social protection for everyone living in low- and lower middle-income countries. Oxfam has estimated that a 1.5% wealth tax on Irish millionaires owning above €4 million could raise €4 billion in tax revenue. A 1.5% wealth tax on Irish billionaires alone could raise a little over €0.7 billion.
  • Governments like Ireland should support the development of a Global Assets Registry to address extreme wealth that is held by oligarchs, from Russia and beyond, in financial centres including the IFSC.

Download “Profiting from Pain” here.

ENDS

CONTACT: Alice Dawson-Lyons | alice.dawsonlyons@oxfam.org | +353 83 198 1869

Notes to editors:

  • Download the methodology document outlining how Oxfam calculated the statistics in the brief here.
  • Oxfam’s calculations are based on the most up-to-date and comprehensive data sources available.
  • Figures on the very richest in society come from the Forbes billionaire list, including for Ireland.
  • Irish statistics on deprivation is taken from the CSO – Central Statistics Office
  • Figures on Irish food and energy companies are taken from The Irish Times Top 1000 Guide to Irish Business, which uses CRO data, in the Energy and Food Sections respectively.
  • The five largest energy companies globally referenced are BP, Shell, TotalEnergies, Exxon and Chevron
  • The five biggest Irish food companies referenced are Kerry Group, Glanbia, Musgrave, Ornua and Moy Park.
  • The five best-known Irish energy companies referenced are ESB, Energia, Bord Gais, SSE Airtricity and Energia Power.
  • All amounts expressed in US dollars have been adjusted for inflation using the US consumer price index.
  • The World Bank defines extreme poverty as living on less than $1.90 (€1.75) per day.
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Ten years since we said “never again”, East Africa facing catastrophic hunger

Oxfam calls for radical action as number of people facing extreme hunger across East Africa more than doubles since last year

The number of people experiencing extreme hunger across East Africa in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia has more than doubled since last year – from over 10 million to more than 23 million today. In a report published today (18.05.22), Oxfam and Save the Children highlighted the world’s repeated failure to stave off preventable disasters and called on world leaders to take urgent action to save lives.

Dangerous Delays 2: The Cost of Inaction details how more than a decade since the delayed response to the 2011 famine that killed more than 260,000 people in Somalia – half of them children under five - the world is once again failing to avert catastrophic hunger in East Africa. Today, nearly half a million people across parts of Somalia and Ethiopia are facing famine-like conditions. In Kenya, 3.5 million people are suffering extreme hunger. United Nations predictions suggest that 350,000 Somali children may die by the summer if governments and donors do not tackle this hunger crisis immediately.

Jane Meriwas, Director of Samburu Women Trust in Kenya, said: “The situation is devastating. Both human beings and livestock are at risk of dying, already children, pregnant mothers and elderly in some parts of Marsabit and Samburu Counties in Kenya are being reported as dying. If urgent intervention is not provided now, we are likely to witness even more death.”

Oxfam is urging Ireland to continue to show leadership in calling for an immediate and radical mobilisation of international aid to prevent further destitution as well as to continue to use our membership on the UN Security Council to highlight the links between conflict and hunger and the need to address its catastrophic impacts. In addition to conflict, the report identifies a number of causes to the hunger crisis including Covid-19, the climate crisis and inflationary and market pressures accelerated by the conflict in Ukraine.

Supported by the Jameel Observatory, Dangerous Delay 2 examines the changes in the humanitarian aid system since 2011. It finds that despite an improved response to the 2017 East Africa drought when widespread famine was averted, the national and global responses have largely remained too slow and too limited to prevent a repeat today.

Leadership at international level is vital as entrenched bureaucracies and self-serving political choices continue to curtail a unified global response, despite improved warning systems and efforts by local NGOs. Urgent appeals are woefully underfunded, as other crises, including the war in Ukraine, are worsening the region’s escalating hunger crisis. 

Commenting on the crisis, Jim Clarken, CEO of Oxfam Ireland, said: “Let us be clear, starvation is a political failure. The world does not lack food or money, it lacks political courage and will. More than a decade ago when famine devastated lives and livelihoods across Somalia, we said never again. And yet, despite repeated warnings for two years, governments and the international community are acting too late and with too little to prevent catastrophic hunger across East Africa.

“It may be tempting to view the reasons for this crisis – a deadly combination of extreme weather, conflict and the economic fallout of COVID-19 -  as one-off events, but all of these events demonstrate the deep fragility of the food and economic systems that millions of people rely on to survive.  As the climate crisis unfolds, shocks from extreme weather and related factors – including the interplay between climate and conflict – will increase further. Ireland has already played a vital role at the UN Security Council in highlighting the interplay between conflict, climate and hunger and this is now more important than ever. Conflict is violently spurring the hunger crisis, continuing to limit the ability of the most vulnerable to access their farms, their pastures and to travel safely to markets or access life-saving humanitarian assistance.

“Meanwhile, climate change has made the La Niña-induced drought in the Horn of Africa more severe and prolonged, now the worst in 40 years. The drought has eroded economic reserves, herd size, and human health and is a major factor behind the alarming numbers of people without enough to eat each day. This is horribly unfair when the region is one of the least responsible for the climate crisis, emitting collectively 0.1% of global carbon emissions.”

Just two percent ($93.1 million) of the current $4.4bn UN appeal for Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia has formally been funded to date. In 2017, those same countries had received $1.9 billion in emergency funding. Although donors promised $1.4 bn of aid last month, only $378 million of that was new money.

Oxfam and Save the Children are calling for urgent action to tackle this funding gap alongside a number of key asks, including:

  • To help save lives now, Western leaders and the G7 must immediately inject money to meet the $4.4 billion UN appeal for Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, and ensure the funding is flexible enough to be used where it is most needed.
  • Donors must guarantee that at least 25 per cent of funds go to local responders at the heart of response.
  • National governments must prioritise lives over politics, by acknowledging and acting on early warnings. They should be quicker to declare national emergencies, shift national resources to those most in need, and invest in response to climate related shocks.
  • Rich polluting nations must pay East Africa for its climate loss and damage. They must also cancel 2021-2022 debts for those countries, in order to free up resources to support people to mitigate and adapt to climate shocks.

ENDS

Notes to editors

  • Download the latest “Dangerous Delay 2: The Cost of Inaction.” report published 18 May 2022. 
  • A Dangerous Delay: The cost of late response to early warnings in the 2011 drought in the Horn of Africa report published in 2012 can be found here.
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Oxfam Ireland urge Irish government to tackle big pharma and end vaccine inequity

Just 13% of people in low-income countries have received two vaccine doses, compared to 75% of people in high-income countries, this is translating into a huge death toll… It’s time Ireland supported the TRIPS waiver, helped save millions of lives and put an end to this pandemic. 

 

Jim Clarken, Oxfam Ireland CEO | Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment May 11 2022

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This was Oxfam Ireland CEO Jim Clarken’s rallying call to the members of the Oireachtas committee on enterprise, trade and employment on Wednesday the 11th of May. He was speaking as part of People’s Vaccine Alliance Ireland delegation, on the issue of vaccine inequity, and why the committee should recommend that the Irish Government support the temporary waiver of intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics (known as the TRIPS waiver).

Jim Clarken made this argument in the context of the huge profits that the pharmaceutical industry have made from COVID-19 vaccines:

The reality of it is that Pharma has never seen profits like they’ve seen in the last few years, many new billionaires have been created in the pharma industry

Jim Clarken appeared alongside Professor Aisling McMahon of Maynooth University and Access to Medicines Ireland, Dimitri Eynikel of Médecins Sans Frontières and Dr. Christine Kelly, a consultant in infectious diseases who represented Doctors for Vaccine Equity.

Prof. McMahon outlined how the main effect of a waiver would be to allow low-income countries to temporarily suspend intellectual property rights so entities within those countries could produce generic versions of COVID-19 vaccines, medicines or diagnostics without States facing the threat of sanctions.

Prof. Aisling McMahon, Maynooth University | Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment, May 11

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Dr. Kelly provided startling statistics on vaccine inequity and the effect on frontline healthcare workers: ‘there are still many countries with vaccination rates less than 10% and we know that WHO guidance is that you need to vaccinate 10% of your population to cover the most vulnerable people. For me, this hits particularly hard because as a healthcare worker I know how difficult it is to treat people when you haven’t been vaccinated.’

Dr. Christine Kelly, St. Vincent’s University Hospital | Committee on Enterprise, Trade & Employment

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And Dimitri Eynikel, outlined the devastating impact a vaccine resistant variant will have if a TRIPS waiver isn’t implemented: ‘Are we prepared for a potential next wave, are we prepared for new inequities, when new more portent vaccines, adapted to new variants will arrive. We’re not there, we’re going to have the same inequity all over again if we don’t address the structural issues.’ We can’t expect developing countries to fight today's virus with yesterday's tools.

Dimitri Eynikel, MSF Access | Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment

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The need for change was made most clear when Jim Clarken quoted Wilfred Gurupira, an academic in Zimbabwe: ‘it’s one thing losing those you love to a pandemic where there’s nothing that can be done. But it’s quite another, losing people when you know there was something that could be done to help them, but you can’t access it.’

You can watch the full hearing here.

To keep the momentum going in the run up to the all-important WTO meeting in June, the People’s Vaccine Alliance is organising an online conference about COVID-19 vaccine inequity on the 2nd of June (10am-12pm). Speakers will include Senator Alice-Mary Higgins, leader of The Civil Engagement Group in Seanad Éireann, & Dr. Luke McDonagh Assistant Professor at the London School of Economics researching Intellectual Property & Public Law, with details of further speakers to follow.

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Ukraine Appeal | Help Today

Nearly 12 million Ukrainians have fled their homes from the war, 5 million into neighbouring countries.


Oxfam have a busy partner-led humanitarian response running in Ukraine, Poland, Moldova and Romania, aiming to reach up to 800,000 people, or more if possible.
In Poland, we have already reached more than 225,000 people.


We are concentrating on protection, water and sanitation, and food and economic security. We are providing cash and basic sanitation facilities for families in need of urgent assistance.

Thank you for your continued support.
 

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