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Volunteer with your local Oxfam shop

Volunteers Needed!

At the heart of Oxfam Ireland Shops, there is a network of dedicated staff and volunteers – all working together to beat poverty. They play a vital role in supporting Oxfam’s work - and now our global response to Covid-19 – while also providing a solution to throwaway fashion by saving items from ending up in landfills across the island of Ireland. They are planet and people protectors.

Chrissi, one of our incredible Managers, reflects on working at Oxfam on Botanic Avenue in Belfast as she gets ready to reopen shop doors after months of closure. We hope it inspires you to volunteer with your local Oxfam shop.

Q: How long have you worked with Oxfam Ireland?
A: Almost three years - I started managing the shop in Lisburn and now run the Oxfam Vintage shop on Botanic Avenue.

Q: What was your motivation for applying for the job?
A: I have an interest in sustainable fashion and love clothes. I only buy second hand clothing and feel that fast fashion is a real issue. I’m motivated by raising money that goes towards helping others.

Q: How did it feel to have to close your shop?
A: When we were told we had to close I felt apprehensive for the charity sector as a whole and concerned for vulnerable people in the community.

Q: What did you miss the most?
A: I’ve missed the craic from customers and volunteers and of course the fun of never knowing what you will get donated.

Q: What are you looking forward to when you reopen your doors?
A: I’m looking forward to getting the shop into order again and seeing how all the volunteers and regular customers have been.

Q: What is the best thing about working in a charity shop?
A: There are so many things that make it a great place to work. I love my job because I get to meet and work with a diverse range of people and see that people really do care about each other. Of course I’m also obsessed with clothes so get to shop whilst working!

Q: What has been your best moment in the shop?
A: We have had lots of great moments but a real highlight was when two Iranian volunteers got their asylum granted after a long wait. For them to finally have freedom to move forward was lovely to see.

Q: How can people help your business bounce back?
A: By donating good quality items to our shops. If you're like me and you did a massive clear out, we will happily take it! In doing so you are preventing goods ending up in landfill. Of course you can also help by shopping in our shops to find that unique bargain!

Q: Is there anything you would like to say to your customers and/or volunteers?
A: We have uncertain times ahead of us but kindness in the community is so important.

Oxfam shops in Northern Ireland reopened for business on Friday 30 April and are accepting donations.

Oxfam shops in the Republic of Ireland will reopen on Monday 17 May in line with Government regulations.

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Hundreds of NGOS call on governments to increase aid to prevent global hunger crisis

  • UN warning of “famines of biblical proportions” goes unheeded with only five percent of food security appeal funded

20 April 2021

Today, more than 200 NGOs published an open letter calling on all governments to urgently increase aid to prevent over 34 million people from being pushed to the brink of starvation this year. 

A year on since the UN warned of “famines of biblical proportions”, rich donors have funded just five percent of the UN’s $7.8 billion food security appeal for 2021, while globally, world food prices reached a seven-year high in February of this year.

At the end of 2020, the UN estimated that 270 million people were either at high risk of, or already facing, acute levels of hunger. While 174 million people in 58 countries have reached that level already and are at risk of dying from malnutrition or lack of food, and this figure is only likely to rise in coming months if nothing is done immediately.

Jim Clarken, Chief Executive of Oxfam Ireland said: “While both the Irish government and public have been consistently generous in their support of aid efforts, global funding is not keeping pace with the increasing need - even with extreme hunger crises looming for millions more people across the world.

"Conflict is the biggest driver of global hunger, which is also exacerbated by climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic."

From Yemen, to Afghanistan, South Sudan and Northern Nigeria, conflicts and violence are forcing millions to the brink of starvation, with many people living in conflict zones sharing horrifying stories of hunger and the impact on food supplies.

Fayda from Lahj governorate in Yemen says: “When humanitarian workers came to my hut, they thought I had food because smoke was coming from my kitchen. But I was not cooking food for my children – instead, I could only give them hot water and herbs, after which they went to sleep hungry.”

Nearly two out of every five families in Yemen buy food and medicines using debt, according to Oxfam research, which revealed that Yemeni families are trapped in a cycle of informal debt, living precariously and reliant on good will as they lurch from one month to the next.  

Amb. Ahmed Shehu, Regional Coordinator for the Civil Society Network of Lake Chad Basin said: “The situation here is really dire. Seventy percent of people in this region are farmers but they can’t access their land because of violence, so they can’t produce food. These farmers have been providing food for thousands for years – now they have become beggars themselves. Food production is lost, so jobs are lost, so income is lost, so people cannot buy the food. Then, we as aid workers cannot safely even get to people to help them.” 

Clarken Concluded: "Ireland, as a recently elected member of the UN Security Council, now has an important role in promoting respect of international humanitarian law and the protection of civilians in time of armed conflict.  

"At the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic the UN Secretary General called for a global ceasefire to address the pandemic but too few leaders have sought to implement it.

“Together, we must now push global leaders to support durable and sustainable solutions to conflict, and open pathways for humanitarians to access communities in conflict zones to save lives.”

ENDS

Contact

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

Notes to the Editor


QUOTES FROM NGO LETTER SIGNATORIES:

Oxfam International Executive Director, Gabriela Bucher said:  

“The richest countries are slashing their food aid even as millions of people go hungry; this is an extraordinary political failure. They must urgently reverse these decisions. And we must confront the fundamental drivers of starvation – global hunger is not about lack of food, but a lack of equality.”  

David Miliband, CEO and President of the International Rescue Committee, said:  

“The worsening rate of global hunger is horrifying to witness. Every day we are seeing the human cost of hunger play out in the countries where we work. World leaders must act now to prevent unprecedented levels of suffering, through increased funding and diplomatic efforts to end conflict and improve humanitarian access.” 
 
CARE International Secretary General, Sofía Sprechmann Sineiro said:  

“Whether Yemen, Syria or the DRC, funding to respond to the hunger crisis is not materializing. Yet trillions are invested in rescue packages for corporates all over the world. Donors must step up. It is not a matter of affordability; it is a matter of political will. CARE’s evidence base tells us that for every dollar women earn, 80 cents go back into the family, compared with 30 cents of every dollar men earn. Gender inequality is a key predictor of the occurrence and recurrence of armed conflict. If we fail to grasp this simple fact, we will fail to prevent or effectively counter famine. 

Save the Children’s CEO, Inger Ashing said:  

"We have warned donors over and over again – their inaction is leading to death and despair among children, as we see in countries across the globe every single day. A pledging conference for Yemen in early March did not even raise half of the funds needed, and that country is at a tipping point. It’s painful, because governments have the money. That thousands of children will be dying of hunger and disease in 2021 is a political choice – unless governments radically choose to help save the lives of children.”  

The Danish Refugee Council Secretary General, Charlotte Slente said:  

“Among the growing number of refugees and displaced persons, lack of access to food severely worsens an already critical situation. DRC calls on all governments to act now to prevent global hunger from adding further destitution to the world’s most vulnerable groups of people.”

World Vision International President & CEO, Andrew Morley said:  

“Let me be direct: there is no place or excuse for famine in the 21st century. The fact we have reached this point shows there has been a clear and catastrophic moral failure by the international community. A generation of girls and boys needs us to bring hope, supporting and empowering them to reach their full potential. Children of the world are looking to us to act.” 

Interim CEO of Islamic Relief Worldwide,Tufail Hussain, said: 

“Cutting aid in the middle of a pandemic is morally abhorrent and risks rolling back decades of development. Failure to act now will cast a shadow over generations to come, as malnutrition affects young children’s cognitive and physical development for the rest of their lives. The world must not wait for famine to be declared before helping people who are starving right now. We are calling for global solidarity to end hunger and stand with the world’s poorest people.”

Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, CEO of Plan International, said:  

“We are witnessing a devastating global hunger crisis, which will hit girls and women the hardest. In countries like South Sudan, we are already hearing reports of hunger-related deaths and families going entire days without food. Others are making heartbreaking choices, marrying their daughters early or saving what little food they have for working members of the household. It is critical that world leaders step up and provide more funding for humanitarian assistance – otherwise, we risk millions of avoidable deaths.” 

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EU must urgently reconsider opposition to TRIPS waiver - Mary Robinson

  •  Former President Mary Robinson and Nobel Laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire call on President Biden to waive intellectual property rules for Covid-19 vaccines 

16 April 2021

Today, former Irish President and UN Human Rights Commissioner, Mary Robinson called on EU’s leaders “to put the collective right to safety for all ahead of everything else - and come together to end this pandemic”. Robinson’s comments come after news that US President Joe Biden is considering supporting a patent waiver of intellectual property rules for Covid-19 vaccines at the international level. 

The waiver of intellectual property rules, known as the TRIPS waiver, would allow for a scale up in manufacturing globally, overcoming artificial supply constraints while helping to reduce further distribution crises.  

Jim Clarken, Chief Executive of Oxfam Ireland said: “The continuance of monopoly control by a small number of vaccine makers, and the resulting global vaccine inequality, is leaving millions of lives hanging in the balance by putting corporate profit before people. 

 “Oxfam fully support Mary Robinson’s call for EU leaders to urgently reconsider their opposition to the TRIPS waiver - and offer their full support . By doing this, the European Union will not only save millions of peoples’ lives, but also mitigate the risk to our economies and the current backslide in workplace gender equality.” 

Earlier this week, the former Irish President added her name to an open letter to Biden. The letter was sent to the White House as news spread about the pausing of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine – which will severely hinder vaccine roll out plans across the world, including in Ireland.  

Alongside Robinson, Nobel Peace Laureate, Mairead Corrigan Maguire and more than 150 former heads of state and Nobel laureates, called on President Biden to support the TRIPS waiver and pursue a people’s vaccine to end the pandemic.  

While there have been some welcome steps to increase the supply of vaccines to poor countries, including from Ireland, they remain insufficient when compared to the scale of the Covid-19 threat. 

In February, Oxfam Ireland, along with a number of organisations, networks and health professionals wrote an open letter to Micheál Martin, urgently requesting Ireland’s support for this temporary emergency waiver, which is currently supported by more than 100 nations. 

Clarken concluded: “To control the virus, the simple reality is, enough vaccines need to be produced in different geographies, priced affordably, and allocated globally. Low-income countries should not be forced to wait for vaccines to trickle down to them.

 “Ireland has a well-deserved reputation of supporting the human rights of the world’s poorest people. At this critical moment in history, we should reaffirm our values and leadership on the world stage by, as the letter to Biden states, choosing ‘to put the collective right to safety for all ahead of the commercial monopolies of the few’. 

 “Covid-19 is a public health crisis, and as such demands a global solution. It is time to break from old ways, and pave new ones that we can all have an equal footing on."

END 

Contact 

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

Editor's Notes 

  • See Mary Robinson's op-ed in the UK Times here.
  • The full letter to President Biden and list of signatories can be found here

The letter specifically asks President Biden to support a proposal from the South African and Indian governments at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to temporarily waive intellectual property rules related to Covid-19 vaccines and treatments. At the current pace of vaccine production, most poor nations will be left waiting until at least 2024 to achieve mass Covid-19 immunisation.

The leaders also called for the intellectual property waiver to be accompanied by the open sharing of vaccine know-how and technology, and by coordinated and strategic global investment in research, development, and manufacturing capacity, especially in developing countries, underscoring that threats to public health are global and require global solidarity-based solutions.       

Former leaders who signed the letter included Gordon Brown, former UK prime minister; François Hollande, former French president; Mikhail Gorbachev, former president of the USSR. 

The letter, which was coordinated by the People’s Vaccine Alliance, a coalition of more than 50 organisations including Oxfam, UNAIDS, Global Justice Now and Avaaz, warned that at the current global immunisation rate, it was likely that only 10 percent of people in the majority of poor countries will be vaccinated in the next year.  

  • The open letter sent to Micheál Martin in February by an Irish Coalition can be found here.  

 

 

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Born in Yemen in 2015, war is all he has ever known

“I don’t want to live in this place, I just want to go home.”

Six-year-old Omar* is tired. He’s tired of the wind, of the rain, of moving from one place to the next.

Born in Yemen in 2015, the year the war started, war is all Omar has ever known. Not long after his arrival, his family were forced flee their home in Nihm District, Sana’a Governorate.

“In 2015, we were living in security and stability in our villages, houses and farms,” says his 45-year-old father Salem*. “We used to grow crops and eat from that. Water supply was always provided by government. We got food from our own farms.

“I also had a monthly salary from the government. I used to work in the security department. Everything was just fine.”

Then the war started and everything changed.

Salem and his son Omar in Alswidan Camp, Marib Governorate. Photo: Kaff Media/Oxfam

The family fled their village, leaving most of their belongings behind. For a while, they lived in caves and drank water from nearby ponds. They moved again – first to Alkhaniq camp, then to Algadaan, where they stayed for six months, until August 2020, before the conflict forced them to flee once more.

It is a difficult and uncertain life for a family already grieving the loss of a loved one. Salem’s third-oldest child, his 15-year-old son, was struck by a car and died in December 2020.  

The family eventually moved to Alswidan camp, four to five days away by foot. “I didn’t have any vehicle to transport my children nor my stuff, so I had to send my children with other passengers separately,” said Salem.

“Our life nowadays in Alswidan camp is difficult because of the harsh climate and storms… When we first arrived here, we faced a strong storm which tore apart our tents and we were told that we will be given new tents.”

The family of seven live in a 12sqm tent. So far, there have been fires in six tents in the camp due to families having to cook inside their shelters. But there are other risks too, Salem explains.

People in the camp are always afraid of military actions that could hit them any time. We all live in anxiety… I live with fear about my family and my family sleep and wake up frightened. All families, not just my family.

Salem says that they have not received any food aid in more than a year. And water is limited. “Water supply is just 500 litres for each family no matter how big or small the family is,” he continues. Some people have animals to raise, I have a few goats which help me in my living.

“They provide us with only 500 litres of water for five or six days. Sometimes water supply is provided for two months and stopped for another month.

“As for the health services, we have a clinic that provides basic medicine only. One day, my youngest boy asked his brother to bring him some water to drink… The older boy gave him too much water until his lungs were filled with it. I took him to the clinics nearby but they couldn’t rescue him. So, I had to take him to a private hospital and I spent 48,000 YR (€160) in three days. I didn’t have that amount of money but his mother did have some jewellery.”

Salem* and Omar's* story

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Salem wants a better future for his children. He wants them to have an education – something that they have missed out on in recent years – and to live in peace.

It’s what Omar dreams of too.

“When I grow up, I want to be a teacher so I can teach other children and go back home," he says. "We go back home and never have to leave it again. I don’t want to live in this place, I just want to go back home.”

*Names changed to protect identities.

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