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Marking ten years since the outbreak of conflict in Syria

Remember Syria: Marking 10 years since conflict began in Syria, Concern, GOAL, Oxfam Ireland, Trócaire, and World Vision stand with Lord Mayor Hazel Chu, Dublin City Councillors, and locals in solidarity with the Syrian community, to remember the lives lost, and the people displaced and harmed during the ongoing humanitarian crisis.

Media Statement, 12 March 2021

Marking ten years since the outbreak of conflict in Syria, Jim Clarken, Chief Executive of Oxfam Ireland said:

Marking ten years since war broke out in Syria, Jim Clarken, Chief Executive of Oxfam Ireland said:

“The news headlines may have faded, but as we mark a decade since conflict began in Syria, the humanitarian crisis continues to cause tremendous human suffering to people both inside and outside the country. We cannot let this be another forgotten crisis.

“Hundreds of thousands have died, more than 13 million people have fled their homes and essential infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and homes have been decimated. Lives remain on hold as people struggle to meet immediate needs amidst a deteriorating economy and remain fearful for the future with no end to the crisis in sight. 

“What is especially heart-breaking is the impact on children. For many, in their short lives they have known nothing but war, suffered grave violations and have had no access to education.

"Our colleagues in Syria also have grave concerns about the unfolding impact Covid-19 is having across the country. In the context of limited humanitarian access, a lack of funding for aid, destroyed health infrastructure, and declining health of a population who have suffered under 10 years of conflict, the pandemic poses a massive threat to vulnerable communities within Syria.

“Ireland, as a newly elected member of the UN Security Council, is playing an important role in efforts to resolve the crisis. But while both the Irish government and public have been consistently generous in their support of the aid effort and resettlement of Syrian people to Ireland, global humanitarian funding is not keeping pace with the increasing need.

“We ask people to remember Syria and ensure that even though the headlines have faded – our solidarity and support as an international community does not.”

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Contact

Caroline Reid, Communications Manager | caroline.reid@oxfam.org | 087 912 3165

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Reactive: Oxfam response to WTO TRIPS waiver for Covid-19 vaccines being blocked again by rich countries - a massive missed opportunity

Thursday 11 March 2021

In response to calls for a waiver of Trade and Intellectual Property Rules (TRIPS) for COVID-19 vaccines, which is backed by more than 100 mostly developing countries, being blocked again at World Trade Organisation talks by the EU, with support from Ireland, Jim Clarken, Chief Executive of Oxfam Ireland said:

“This is a massive missed opportunity to speed up and scale up the production of lifesaving vaccines worldwide by waiving the intellectual property barriers that prevent more qualified manufacturers joining the effort.

“While this proposal should not be seen as a 'magic tree' to solve global vaccine supply issues it will go a long way to bringing as much vaccine production capacity online as is possible.

“The EU, with support from Ireland is siding with a handful of pharmaceutical corporations in protecting their monopolies against the needs of the majority of developing countries who are struggling to administer a single dose.

“It is unforgivable that while people are literally fighting for breath, the EU and Ireland continue to block what could be a vital breakthrough in ending this pandemic for everyone in rich and poor countries alike.

“During a pandemic that is devastating lives across the planet, governments should be using their powers now, not tomorrow, to remove intellectual property rules and ensure pharmaceutical companies work together to share technology and fix raw material shortages, all of which are standing in the way of a massive scale up in production. Oxfam polling shows that this is a position that is supported by the majority of people in Ireland”

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Contact

Caroline Reid | caroline.reid@oxfam.org | 087 912 3165

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Almost two-thirds of people in Ireland say Covid-19 vaccine control should end to accelerate supply

Wednesday 10 March 2021

This time last year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Covid-19 a pandemic. Now a new survey by Oxfam Ireland reveals that more than six out of 10 people (62%) in Ireland say that the Government should ensure that pharmaceutical companies who develop Covid-19 vaccines should not retain monopoly control.

Instead, they want the Government to ensure that companies share vaccine science and technology with other approved companies worldwide. Our research found that just 18 percent of those polled supported the Government’s current approach of protecting pharmaceutical companies’ vaccine monopoly. 

The findings of our survey come as more than 100 developing nations – led by South Africa and India – make the case at the World Trade Organisation for a waiver of Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS). This will take place today and tomorrow.

This waiver would override the monopolies held by pharmaceutical firms and enable the urgent scale-up in production of safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines to ensure all countries get access to the doses they need. The EU continues to block this proposal – a move currently supported by Ireland.  

Our polling also highlights that two-thirds of those surveyed believe Covid-19 will remain a risk to personal health, while 76 percent think it will remain a threat to the Irish economy if the virus continues to spread elsewhere in the world. Almost three out of five (56%) of those surveyed believe it will be faster to vaccinate everyone if science and technologies are shared. We also found that:

Responding to the findings, Jim Clarken, Chief Executive of Oxfam Ireland, said: “There is clear support among the Irish public for equitable vaccine supply, as well as evident concern about the continued and prolonged impact this virus will have if it continues to spread beyond Ireland.  

People in developing countries need access to vaccines to protect lives and reduce the associated risks the virus poses, just as people in Ireland do. Without united global action, the Covid-19 health crisis, and resulting economic fallout and disruption will continue to have grave effects here in Ireland and worldwide.

The current limits to global vaccine supplies could result in some countries having to wait until at least 2023 for mass immunisation. While countries in the WHO’s COVAX facility will see the arrival of doses in the coming days, the amounts available mean only three percent of their populations can hope to be vaccinated by mid-year. At best, just one fifth will be vaccinated by the end of this year.   

All the leading vaccine developers have benefitted from billions of dollars in public subsidies, yet they have been handed the monopoly rights to produce and profit from them – already generating billions in revenue.  

At the same time, qualified vaccine producers all over the world are on standby, ready to produce more vaccines if they are given access to the technology and know-how. New capacity could be brought on stream within months.  

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