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Say yes to pre-loved with Oxfam’s Second Hand September challenge

  • Globally: 95 percent of textile waste each year could be reused or recycled  

  • Locally: Three in four Irish people donate unwanted items because it reduces textile waste 

More than three in four Irish people (76 percent) donate unwanted items to charity shops because it reduces the amount of clothes being binned, according to research carried out by Oxfam Ireland. With 13 million tonnes of textile waste produced globally each year - 95 percent of which can be reused or recycled – this statistic indicates a positive Irish response to a situation that is increasingly harming our planet.

225,000 tonnes of textiles are dumped in Ireland each year – some of which can take up to 200 years to decompose. Landfills are being fuelled by a global culture of throwaway fashion that is recognised as one of the biggest polluters in the world today, while also using up vast amounts of water in production processes; a vital and lifesaving natural resource denied to so many people.

Oxfam Ireland is proud to be a solution to throwaway fashion through its network of 42 shops across the island of Ireland, which accept and sell pre-loved clothes, shoes, accessories, handbags and more, diverting them from landfill. 

Today, Oxfam is asking people to join them through Second Hand September – a challenge to say yes to shopping second hand for the month of September. The aid agency, which supports communities across the world impacted by the climate crisis, is encouraging people to take on the personal challenge for 30 days and discover the joys of pre-loved shopping. 

Michael McIlwaine, Oxfam Ireland’s Head of Retail, said: “Cheap production and plummeting prices means the clothes we buy often have a short lifespan, with more and more ending up in landfill sooner than they should. Our shops play a part by offering people a way to reduce the amount of items in Irish landfills as well as a way to reuse and extend the lifecycle of clothes and other items. 

“By donating and shopping in-store, the Irish public are not just protecting our environment, but are also supporting some of the most vulnerable communities worldwide, including those adversely affected by the climate crisis. People may not realise how much value and power their pre-loved donations and purchases hold. Every garment or item donated to, or bought in Oxfam raises vital funds to fight inequality and support our global mission to beat poverty.

“Throughout September, we’re calling on people to say yes to second hand for 30 days. Our shop teams are ready to help people start, or indeed continue, their journey to a more sustainable lifestyle, starting with the clothes they buy. People can find out where their nearest Oxfam shop is, as well as lots of second hand shopping tips and inspiration throughout the month by visiting our website – www.oxfamireland.org/shs.“ 

To learn more about Oxfam’s Second Hand September challenge, visit: www.oxfamireland.org/shs

ENDS

Contact 

Caroline Reid | caroline.reid@oxfam.org | +353 (0) 87 912 3165

Alice Dawson-Lyons | alice.dawsonlyons@oxfam.org | +353 (0) 83 198 1869 

NOTES TO EDITORS: 

  • Spokespeople are available for interview and graphics and images are available on request
  • The research was commissioned by Oxfam and conducted by Empathy Research in 2019. The full methodology and research data is available on request. 
  • Oxfam works across many areas of fashion: collaborating with big brands to recycle and reuse stock; joining forces with fashion houses to improve conditions in their supply chains; fighting to improve garment workers’ rights; and campaigning on climate change. 
  • Across its programmes, Oxfam is tackling the impact of the climate crisis. They work with communities to prepare for unpredictable weather and disasters as a result of climate change and are there to help when the worst does happen, from drought to floods and earthquakes. 
  • Oxfam has 42 shops across the island of Ireland. To find the nearest Oxfam shop, visit www.oxfamireland.org/shops 
  • 95 percent of global textile waste could be reused or recycled each year. Source: https://theprettyplaneteer.com/fashion-industry-waste
  • Irish people dump 225,000 tonnes of clothing every year. Source: http://re-dress.ie/when-fashion-is-finished-garment-end-of-life-solutions/
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Three years on: Fighting COVID-19 in Cox's Bazar - the worlds largest refugee camp

Almost a million Rohingya Refugees live in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh - sprawling camps built across a hilly landscape.

Photos by Fabeha Monir / Oxfam. 19 May 2020

August 25th, 2020 marks three years since the start of a brutal military crackdown in Myanmar, which resulted in more than 700,000 Rohingya people fleeing to Bangladesh in search of safety.

Stormy skies over Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar.

Over half the refugee population are children.

12 years old Rofika* is carrying drinking water from the water distribution point and heading towards her tent. Rohingya refugee camp, Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh

Refugees live in close quarters, using communal toilets and water facilities - sometimes the most basic items, such as soap, are lacking.

Nur Jahan* inside her house in Rohingya refugee camp, Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh

"I have lived in this refugee camp for almost three years. There are many challenges we are facing including hot weather. It’s tough to live inside these tents. The water crisis is still here."

Shelters are made from bamboo and tarpaulin and are vulnerable to seasonal monsoons and cyclones.

Cox’s Bazar – Just days after the first cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the Rohingya settlements of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh Refugees and host community members faced the threat of Cyclone Amphan.

During the monsoon refugees describe a ‘crisis for dry space’, with wet mud encroaching into shelters leaving no dry areas to sleep.

Oxfam staff member Ali (26) works to prepare one of the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox's Bazar before cyclone Amphan.

Conditions in the camps make refugees vulnerable to Covid-19.

Afiya Khatun* lives in a tent with nine family members. She is worried about the spread of coronavirus. Rohingya refugee camp, Cox's bazar, Bangladesh.

The camps are severely overcrowded with up to 10 people sharing one room and 250 people sharing one tap.

Every day Ameena* (8) spends hours with other neighbors of the Rohingya camp in the queue for collecting drinking water. Rohingya refugee camp Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh.

“My family live up in the hill. We do not have any water supply there. Everyday I have to queue hours for collecting drinking water. I have heard about the virus. We have to wash our hands and face after reaching to our tent. But none of us could wash our hands regularly because we have limited water for drinking, if we waste water by washing hands, I have to spend entire day queuing for water.”

Communal water taps make social distancing virtually impossible.

70 year-old Abu Salem* outside his tent, Rohingya refugee camp, Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh

“How can we stay at our tent. It’s very humid. I am living with eleven members of my family. We are asked to stay at home. I am very afraid of this virus. Everyone is wearing mask. I am wearing a mask too. But if I get infected by the disease all my family members will be infected. This is what I fear most”

When the virus first began spreading in the camps, rpeople were afraid as they had limited information.

Hafeza* with her child inside their tent where eight members of her family is living in one tent during COVID-19 outbreak in the camp. Rohingya refugee camp Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh.

“We are suffering a lot for humidity, and for water…We are queuing one hour for water. We have heard from others that our people are infected by corona virus. This is why we are now more afraid. Because of the disease people have to stay away from each other. So, I feel fear. It can spread from one another and people get infected easily. This is causing us fear”

Laila and Abu Begum* inside their tent during the COVID-19 outbreak lockdown in Rohingya refugee Camp, Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh.

“We are very afraid because every day we are hearing someone is getting infected by the virus. My husband and I are staying at home. We do not know what is waiting for us.”

Oxfam and our partners are adapting our work to ensure that people get what they need in these challenging times.

Oxfam volunteer Zahid Hossain (20) preparing to go into the field to work with safety measures during the COVID-19 outbreak in the camp. Cox's Bazar, Rohingya refugee camp. Bangladesh
Oxfam staff member Iffat Tahmid Fatema is providing service in the camp during the COVID-19 outbreak. Cox's BazarRohingya Refugee Camp, Bangladesh

We’re helping people stay healthy by sharing information about the virus.

Oxfam staff member Iffat is speaking to Bibi Jan about hygiene maintentance during COVID-19 outbreak.

“I have learned what should we do to save ourselves from the virus. I will share this information in my area. We have to maintain distance and need to stay at home now. We need to wash our hands every time we return from outside."

Oxfam staff member Rokeya is speaking to Imam Abdul Hossain about hygiene maintentance and importance of distance while praying during COVID-19 outbreak. Cox's Bazar Rohingya refugee camp, Bangladesh.

We’re providing soap and hygiene kits.

Hafeza* is cleaing her hands by sitting at the doorstep of her tent during COVID-19 outbreak in the camp. Rohingya refugee camp Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh

We’re helping refugees keep social distance.

Oxfam responding to the COVID-19 outbreak in the camp - markings on the ground are designed to help communities maintain social distancing.

Oxfam and our partners provide clean water.

Noor Haque repairing a mobile phone inside the local market in the Rohingya refugee camp, Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh.

“Everyone is afraid of the virus. But we do not have enough water in the camp… Oxfam is distributing water inside the camp. We can only have drinking water in our home. How can we manage water to wash our hands”

We are working to maintain water and sanitation facilities.

Oxfam staff are cleaning drains and clearing logged water during Cyclone Amphan. Cox's Bazar Rohingya refugee camp, Bangladesh.

We help refugees prepare for storms.

Oxfam staff, Md. Yusuf and Abu Nayeem secure a water supply tank inside the Rohingya refugee camp in Cox's Bazar to protect it from the impact of Cyclone Amphan.

We are adapting to COVID-19 with new innovations, like contactless handwashing stations which are activated with a foot peddle to avoid transmission of the virus from touching the soap and taps.

Nur* is using the recently installed Contactless Handwashing Device in the Rohingya camp.

The handwashing stations are activated with a foot peddle to avoid transmission of the virus from touching the soap and taps.

Toyoba Khatun*, MD. Hossain*, Abdul Malek* using the newly installed soap dispensers for washing hands and keeping distance.
Portrait of Abdul Malek* (80) inside his tent. Abdul Malek is using mask and washing hands regularly. Now he is using the new installed contactless hand washing device by Oxfam.

“I have never seen something like this before. Everyone from our blocks are using this new machine provided by Oxfam. We maintain distance by staying inside the circles made by them. They informed us that we should always maintain distance from each other, wear mask whenever we go out from the tent. I am afraid about the new disease. Already I heard the news of death. We cannot do much, we can only take precaution and stay safe."

Nur Jahan* inside her house wearing a mask to protect herself from COVID-19 as she has to go outside in the yard for her child. Rohingya refugee camp, Cox's Bazar, Banglaesh

"I know about the Coronavirus. I heard that we have to clean hands often with soap. Then we have to dry our hands. We have to do it to prevent the disease. We are not afraid. We know how to wash hands, how to be safe. We heard from volunteers, they told us."

Since 2018, close to a million Rohingya people, more than half of them children, have fled fled prosecution and violence in Myanmar and are now living as refugees in camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh They are living in extremely dire conditions amid increasing threats of floods and destruction to the camps on top of a potentially devastating COVID-19 health crisis as cases continue to be confirmed in the camps.

Climate, Covid and Care: Feminist Journeys

The COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis have a disproportionate impact on people living in poverty, and both are increasing inequality. As we look for ways to fight back, this new zine offers reflections on feminist approaches around the world. What can we learn from young peoples’ leadership? How can we value and integrate Indigenous Peoples’ knowledge? Why is intersectionality crucial in responding to a crisis? How can we build more caring, sustainable societies?

Climate, Covid and Care: Feminist Journeys is a collection of journeys, stories, and ideas from five feminist activists working at the intersection of gender justice and climate justice.

Betty Barkha, she/her

“COVID reiterated the fact that climate change is a threat-multiplier. Just because the entire world is on lockdown, doesn’t mean that climate change or the patriarchy are on lockdown. When Tropical Cyclone Harold hit Vanuatu, Fiji and Tonga in March [2020], people’s homes were blown away. How can you be physically, socially distancing when you’ve got no home and evacuation centres are crammed?

“As always, women were the worst hit in this double crisis situation. They were locked in with their abusers. Access to contraceptives was limited. Women’s care work was overloaded. In the Pacific, women are primary caretakers, live with extended families and the care burden is extremely high.

“Solutions have to be two-tiered; targeted at short-term and immediate, but also long-term and sustainable. It can’t be one or the other, we have to figure out a way to make them both work in a way that’s gender inclusive and socially inclusive. It's about shifting the oppressive and restrictive power structures in order to incorporate the needs of the communities. It’s always been about justice.”

Meera Ghani, she/her

“COVID brought attention to a lot of the asks that disability justice groups have been demanding, like remote working. To the asks that care workers have been demanding, like increased wages, because their work is essential. In the lack of government responses, people came to each other's aid. Here we have a lot of learning to do from Indigenous leaders, but also from Black, trans and queer communities. Because they have been practicing community care like no other, forever. We have seen a lot of their own approaches and methodologies come to the fore.

“We need to divest from institutions and corporations that are life-threatening: those that are killing the planet, killing the people. We need degrowth in the northern economies –those that enable the life-threatening conditions. We need to decolonise hearts and minds. It’s not a limited pie that we must distribute in a certain way, we must get away from this scarcity mentality. We need to reinvest in communities, institutions, and organisations that are life-affirming. And then we need the redistribution of wealth and resources in a fundamentally different way.”

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World Humanitarian Day 2020: Celebrating Yemen's Local Heroes in the Midst of Crisis

This World Humanitarian Day, Oxfam pays tribute to all humanitarians, like Heba, Asem and Abeer – three extraordinary people, who are working to ensure that their community and their country can one day thrive.

By Ahmed Al Fadeel, Omar Algunaid, and Hannah Cooper

For people in Yemen, like people across the globe, 2020 has been a year like no other. Over five years into a conflict that has killed thousands and uprooted millions from their homes, the COVID-19 pandemic has added yet another layer to the country’s ongoing crisis. Health services – already operating at half their pre-war capacity – have been overwhelmed, and people’s fear of COVID-19 may be preventing them for seeking healthcare, potentially masking a deadly cholera outbreak. On top of this, the economy is collapsing; remittances have fallen dramatically due to recession and job losses in other parts of the world. Meanwhile, over halfway through the year, less than a quarter of the money needed for the humanitarian response has so far been given.

Yet, in the midst of these layers of crisis are the many extraordinary Yemenis who are standing with their communities to help in any way they can. Wherever any crisis hits, local people and communities are on the frontlines of the response, and Yemen is no exception.

Despite the impact that COVID-19 has had on all of their lives – from Asem, who has had to put his medical degree on hold, to Heba, who worries every day that her nine-month-old baby will fall sick with the virus – they continue to help people worse off than themselves. This World Humanitarian Day, Oxfam pays tribute to all humanitarians who, like them, are working to ensure that their country can one day thrive.

Heba, Oxfam’s PHP Officer in Aden, gets ready to conduct a community dialogue meeting to determine the main challenges and problems the community is facing. Photo: Omar Algunaid/Oxfam

Heba: “We are humanitarians… if we don’t stay to help people, who will?”

Heba works as a Public Health Promotion Officer for Oxfam in her hometown of Aden, southern Yemen. Her job – which involves raising awareness around the importance of good hygiene, and training community health volunteers to deliver hygiene awareness sessions – has put her on the frontlines of the country’s COVID-19 response. Throughout the four years that Heba has worked with Oxfam in Yemen, she has seen the impact of diseases such as cholera, dengue and polio; but the COVID-19 response has been a challenge unlike any other:

“It’s been difficult – we try to avoid meeting with our colleagues, and we’ve been really careful about going out to speak with the community. So much of our work is normally done face-to-face, but we’ve had to find other ways of making sure that communities are aware of what they can do to prevent the spread of COVID-19 [such as phoning people up or visiting individuals so that we don’t gather in large groups]. As a mother and wife, I was also concerned for the health of my family and my nine-month-old baby. This is a disease that could affect anyone.”

Despite her worries, however, Heba told us that she believes the work she does to be more important than ever:

“I am proud to be part of Oxfam and have the opportunity to contribute to supporting people in my country. We are humanitarians. We are needed more than ever in times like these; if we don’t stay to help and support people, who will?”

Asem, conducting a hygiene awareness session about COVID-19 prevention methods. Photo: Omar Algunaid/Oxfam

Asem: “COVID-19 turned our lives upside down”

Asem is a Community Health Volunteer (CHV) with Oxfam in a village in Al-Dhale, southern Yemen, where his family lives. He joined Oxfam’s growing team of CHVs in May this year, going door-to-door and holding group sessions to raise awareness within his community around good hygiene practice, so that people can protect themselves from disease.

Asem, a first-year medical student in Morocco – where he had received a scholarship to study – had come home to visit his family when the pandemic struck. Travel restrictions meant that he couldn’t return to university, so he decided to volunteer with Oxfam:

“COVID-19 turned our lives upside down. I was worried and frightened in the beginning – I felt so helpless.  I started volunteering with Oxfam to raise people’s awareness about COVID-19, and how to protect themselves. We make sure that the awareness sessions respect physical distancing, of course – over time, good hygiene practice has become part of our routine.”

According to Asem, one of the biggest challenges in Yemen is asking people to stay inside, where possible, to avoid spreading COVID-19. In a country where working from home is not a realistic option for most, people need to go out to work to be able to afford food for their families.

“I chose to volunteer with Oxfam because I wanted to help people in my village to protect themselves from diseases. Despite the risks and challenges, I think it’s important that people are raising awareness – and as a young person I feel like it’s my responsibility to protect others.”

Abeer, in the IDP camp delivering key hygiene awareness messages on Covid-19 and ways to avoid it. Photo: Ahmed Al Fadeel/Oxfam

Abeer: “It’s a really difficult feeling when you see so many people in need and you know that the help available just isn’t enough.”

Abeer, originally from the Yemeni capital Sana’a, works as a Public Health Officer in Hajjah. This area in northern Yemen has been hard hit by conflict and hosts a large population of displaced people, the majority of whom are women and children. They live in crowded camps where social distancing is often impossible, and access to clean water and hygiene products is inadequate.

“When I was a child I loved helping others, so I studied hard to become a social worker and make sure I could work with people who need help. Oxfam gave me the chance to enter the humanitarian world – something I had dreamed of doing.”

She told us how the arrival of COVID-19 has added to the daily challenges of humanitarian workers in Yemen:

“There were already thousands of families living in terrible conditions in the camps for displaced people in Hajjah. With the arrival of coronavirus, the situation became even worse. It’s a really difficult feeling when you see so many people in need of assistance and you know that the help available just isn’t enough. And, with the drop in funding, instead of increasing to match the rising need, we have had to cut some of our projects. That’s been the most difficult for me throughout this pandemic. It’s a terrible feeling.”

Yet, despite the challenges, Abeer continues to see the difference that her work makes for those who have already lost so much:

“My job gives me the opportunity to make a tangible change to my country. The most rewarding part of it is seeing the smiles on the faces of the people we help – we’re saving lives through providing people with food, shelter, clean water, and soap. Over the past five years, we’ve worked to help people whose homes have been totally destroyed by war.”

Since the confirmation of cases of COVID-19 in Yemen in April, Oxfam has refocused its work to respond to the pandemic. We are working on rehabilitating water supplies, distributing hygiene kits for the most vulnerable households, and trucking in clean water to camps for people who have had to flee their homes. We have also given cash for food to families affected by flooding. Across Yemen, we’re training community health volunteers to spread the word about COVID-19 and the importance of hygiene and handwashing.

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