Hope in a year of unprecedented disaster

This year has been one of unprecedented disasters. From drought to famine, hurricanes to war, the global news cycle has been dominated by heart-breaking stories of people caught up in unimaginable situations.
But in the midst of all this, our life-saving and life-changing work is providing hope thanks to the ongoing generosity of our supporters and the Irish government. 
Right now, we’re providing clean water, sanitation and shelter to thousands of Rohingya people who have fled to Bangladesh. Over 400,000 people have crossed the border from Myanmar in the last four weeks, doubling the number of people seeking refuge in the south east of the country. 
Homeless and hungry, people are arriving physically and emotionally traumatised, in desperate need of essentials like water and food and a place to lay their heads. Women, children, older people and those with disabilities are especially vulnerable. And the situation is even more desperate due to recent heavy rains in Bangladesh, with some of the settlements on hillsides and roads at risk from mudslides. 
(Top) Dilenia Florimón together with her daughter in the middle of what remained of her house, two days after Hurricane Irma struck the community of Boba in the province of María Trinidad Sánchez, Dominican Republic. Photo: Fran Afonso / Oxfam. (Bottom-left) Litter along the beach of Corniers Plage near Cap Haitien, the morning after Hurricane Irma hit. Photo: Jean Bernard Simmonet. (Bottom-right) A powerful wave crashes into the already-flooded Vevado district of Havana during Hurricane Irma. Photo: Erislandys Igarza / Oxfam.
Elsewhere, in the Caribbean, the clean-up after Hurricane Irma – one of the most powerful storms in a decade – was hampered by the onslaught of Hurricane Maria, which followed when many of the islands were still reeling from Irma. The devastation wreaked by Irma claimed the lives of 38 people across the Caribbean islands, with ten deaths in Cuba alone. The islands’ tourism, energy and agricultural sectors have been severely impacted, with the northern coast and the eastern and central regions bearing the brunt. 
In all, around two million Cubans had to leave their homes and 50,000 seek refuge at evacuation centres. Many people, whose livelihoods have been disrupted, have since returned to their homes to find them destroyed. Haiti and the Dominican Republic, where Oxfam is on the ground, were also badly hit by flooding and high winds. 
(Left) Rescuers, firefighters, policemen, soldiers and volunteers remove rubble and debris from a flattened building in search of survivors after a powerful quake in Mexico City.Photo: Alfredo strella/AFP/Getty Images. (Right) At least 230 people total have been killed across the region, and rescue crews continue to search for survivors. Photo: Karl Byrnison/Oxfam México
Tragically, this appalling humanitarian disaster was quickly followed by another when a 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck Mexico City and the neighbouring state of Morelos. This was the second earthquake to hit the country in less than two weeks. Over 230 men, women and children have been killed, hundreds more have been injured and buildings, including hospitals and schools, have been reduced to rubble.
(Left) Mother-of-four Tahrir (25) holds her baby in Padding, in Jonglei, South Sudan. Tahrir, who lives with her husband, mother-in-law and children, used to have a farm and cattle. Then the war started and her cows were stolen. She says: “I can’t buy food. Now we survive on what we find in the wild.” Photo: Albert González Farran/Oxfam. (Right) These mothers and children are part of a large group of refugees who fled violence in their villages in recent months. More than 2.6 million people in Nigeria, including 1.5 million children, fled their homes for safety. Now they find themselves facing new dangers such as hunger and malnutrition. Photo: Pablo Tosco/Oxfam.
These terrible crises are quite rightly dominating the headlines. However, a disaster of epic proportions continues to unfold in the background. Across northeast Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, 30 million people are facing starvation. The primary driver of these hunger crises is conflict, although in Somalia it is drought. In February, famine was declared in South Sudan and while it has since been halted, people are still living on the brink. 
So far 2017 has brought terrible pain to many people. But we are there to help in this time of need. Oxfam is on the ground in all of the countries mentioned above as well as in countless more. 
When emergency strikes, we’re there, assessing the damage and providing what’s needed most. Whether it’s clean water and toilets to prevent the spread of deadly diseases or other essentials like food, shelter or information, we make sure people hit by disaster are safe, protected and have dignity. 
We couldn’t do this without you and we need your help now more than ever. Let’s bring hope to even more people.
Please give what you can, today:
Thank you. 
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As he meets UN Sec Gen & addresses Assembly, Minister Coveney must prioritise Ireland’s role in international affairs

Monday, September 18th, 2017

Obligations on refugees and development aid must be met

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney’s attendance at the UN this week is the ideal opportunity to reaffirm Ireland’s role in world affairs and to stress Ireland’s commitment to meeting targets on issues like refugees and overseas development aid, Oxfam Ireland has said.

Throughout the week, Minister Coveney will address the General Assembly, meet with the Secretary General, Antonio Guterres; attend a meeting on reform hosted by Donald Trump and hold discussions with foreign ministers from around the world.

Jim Clarken, Oxfam Ireland’s Chief Executive, said: “This week is a huge opportunity for Ireland to reassert its commitment to tackling some of the most pressing issues which affect our country and the world. Global problems are now local problems – issues such as conflict, poverty, migration and gender equality impact on us all.

“Ireland has a proud tradition of multilateral engagement. As a country, we have made our mark through peace keeping operations and our generous response to humanitarian crises. Minister Coveney must use this week to outline some of the specific measures Ireland will progress in areas such as development aid and our role in the ongoing refugee response.

“Despite the welcome recent announcement that Ireland will take 600 refugees next year, which includes an additional 330, overall, our response to refugees has been disappointing. Back in 2015 the Irish Government promised to accept 4,000 people by the end of this year, so far and with just over three months to go, less than a third – just 1,300 – have arrived.

“Our progress in meeting the accepted target of spending 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) on overseas development aid has been extremely slow. For instance, last year, we allocated just 0.33% to this sector. While we strongly welcome the commitment made by An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar to meet this spending pledge we need to see a clear roadmap and targeted deadlines.

“Over 1.3 billion people worldwide live in extreme poverty, and more than 795 million people – one in nine people globally – do not have enough to eat. Despite significant progress being made since the year 2000, we must continue to work together if we are to be the generation that eradicates extreme poverty for good.”

This week, the UN General Assembly marks one year since the international community, including Ireland, adopted the Declaration for Refugees and Migrants which reaffirmed the responsibility of all nations to refugees and laid out a two-year deadline for countries to save lives, protect rights and share responsibility for the existing crisis.

Over 65.6 million people have been forced to flee their homes due to conflict, persecution and disaster, the highest number ever recorded, and there are now over 22.5 million refugees worldwide, more than half of whom are children.

Oxfam is on the ground in nine out of the 10 main countries of origin for refugees in the world including Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as in neighbouring host countries like Lebanon and Jordan, along with supporting those who have reached Europe in Greece, Italy, Macedonia and Serbia.


Interviews available with Oxfam staff in Dublin and New York.

CONTACT: Daniel English

Desk: +353 (0) 1 635 0422

Mobile: +353 (0) 86 3544954

Still no real progress one year after landmark UN refugees pledge, says Oxfam

One year on from the historic United Nations summit for refugees and migrants, the international community has failed to make meaningful progress towards meeting the goals of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, Oxfam said today. 

The Declaration, first adopted last September, reaffirmed the responsibility of all nations to refugees, and laid out a two-year deadline for countries to develop and agree on a “global compact” that would make these commitments a reality. But 12 months on, there has been no improvement in refugee crises around the world. 

There has been little sign that the countries which agreed the New York Declaration are acting in line with their commitments, and there has been no end to discriminatory and xenophobic migration-related laws and practices in many parts of the world. Unfortunately, this lack of progress at the halfway point has experts worried that this valuable opportunity is being squandered and that an effective solution will not be agreed upon in 2018.

Jim Clarken, Oxfam Ireland’s Chief Executive, said: “More than 65 million people around the world have been forced from their homes because of dangers beyond their control. They are trapped in limbo or risking their lives in search of safety while world leaders stall and delay. All governments, but particularly those of rich nations like the UK and Ireland, should deliver the global solution they have promised.”

Oxfam urges countries to realise the ambitious agenda put forward in the Declaration quickly and in particular to work together transparently in delivering a concrete mechanism for sharing responsibility for refugees by the 2018 deadline.  

Crucially, the mechanism should establish each country’s responsibility for hosting, protecting, and caring for refugees. Poorer countries like Uganda and Lebanon are still bearing the brunt of the crisis, hosting almost 90 percent of displaced people around the world according to Oxfam’s last analysis. Less than one in 10 of the world’s refugees lives in the six richest countries – the US, China, Japan, Germany, France and the UK. The British government should follow Germany and Turkey’s lead in calling for a system that shares responsibility more fairly.

Mr Clarken said: “While the UK has been a generous donor to other nations that are hosting millions of refugees, this does not excuse it from its responsibility to open its doors to the most vulnerable people who have been forced from their homes. One simple and compassionate way it can do this is to change the rules so more refugees can reunite with their family in safety in the UK.”

Oxfam has warned against increased hostility towards refugees and more violent conflicts forcing people to flee.

·         More than a million refugees from South Sudan have arrived in Uganda – 80 percent of them arriving in the last year – yet world leaders have contributed less than a quarter of the $2 billion the country is seeking for humanitarian and development needs.

·         More than 2,400 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean so far this year.

·         Hundreds of thousands of people have fled to Bangladesh to escape violence in Myanmar with no obvious solution in sight.

·         The Syrian conflict rages unabated – millions displaced by the war continue to live without sufficient support or protection. 

“It is scandalous that we are still so far from a comprehensive plan to share responsibility for the refugee crisis while poorer countries continue to pick up the pieces. Wealthy nations are turning a blind eye and leaving others to clean up the mess,” said Clarken.

Oxfam and Amnesty International are bringing the novel and unique ‘Museum Without A Home’ to New York for the UN General Assembly – and Oxfam Ireland will also be launching it for Culture Night Belfast on Friday September 22nd. The award-winning exhibition will see the Ulster University foyer transform into a “museum”, showcasing real objects that Greek women, men, and children donated to refugees in Greece, to help make the difficulties of daily life more manageable.

For more information about Oxfam Ireland’s campaign in support of refugees, visit:



Spokespeople are available for interview in New York, Dublin and London.

For interviews or more information, contact:

Phillip Graham on 00 44 (0) 7841 102535 /

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Oxfam to help over 200,000 Rohingya in Bangladesh

September 15th, 2017

Oxfam is now providing clean water, sanitation and tarpaulins for shelter to Rohingya people who have fled to Bangladesh.

Nearly 370,000 people crossed into Bangladesh in the last four weeks, doubling the number of people seeking refuge in the south east of the country.

The existing camps in Bangladesh are ill-equipped to handle the huge numbers of people. People need shelter, clean water, toilets and food urgently. Women, children, older people and those with disabilities are especially vulnerable. Oxfam’s initially plans to help 200,000 people.

M B Akhter, Interim Country Director, Oxfam in Bangladesh, said: “People face a desperate situation. They have no clean drinking water and no food. They are homeless and hungry following a long and treacherous journey across the border. Many are now sleeping under open skies, by roadsides and in forests, with no protection.

“People are physically and emotionally traumatized.”

Notes to editors

Bangladesh has hosted 400,000 Rohingyas since the 1990s. The continuing influx has doubled the number of refugees in the South-Eastern Districts of Cox's Bazar and Bandarban districts.


To arrange interview call, Daniel English, Oxfam Ireland, 086 3544954

The lean face of drought in Wajir county, northern Kenya

By Blandina Bobson – Oxfam Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, Wajir, KENYA

The face of drought in Wajir County, in Kenya’s north, is ugly. The land is bare and expansive, multiple whirlwinds sweeping across every now and then, which local myths call ‘the devil’. It is scrawny animals feeding on what seems like invisible grass on the ground or camels browsing on thorny remains of what used to be green leafy bushes. Masses of evidently emaciated livestock hurdling to quench their thirst around water points, after hours-long treks in search of the same. Women will wait patiently in line to fill their jerry cans to take back home.

Dead livestock are a common sight in many parts of Wajir, in northern Kenya, which is in the grip of a severe drought. Photo: Katie G. Nelson/Oxfam

Families have become increasingly vulnerable. Men are struggling to provide for their families, their faces are sad and strained as they stare into the unknown future, while the eyes of women and children dart about in hope whenever ‘visitors’ drop by their villages.

In July, an assessment of the drought crisis in the country revealed that 3.4 million people in Kenya are now severely hungry and need urgent food assistance. Of these, 800,000 were projected to be in a more serious food situation by September.

“I used to buy my children milk but I can’t afford it any more because business is really down. The livestock owners who used to be my customers have migrated with the little livestock they have left,” said Rukia, a widow and a mother of 5 children who runs a small business in Dambas village.

Rukia Billow (24) at a Water ATM – an electronic meter, which makes water available 24 hours a day – in Hadado Town, Northern Kenya.  Photo: Katie G. Nelson/Oxfam

Oxfam – supported by ECHO, the humanitarian arm of the European Union– is providing cash assistance for food, water and other essentials to 3,000 families in parts of Wajir. This assistance complements that of the Kenyan government through the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), which is now helping over 54,000 families with similar aid. But really this is only a drop in the ocean given the fast deteriorating situation.

Despite offering a reprieve, this aid does not come without its fair share of challenges. Oxfam has spoken with families who have been forced to share part of their monthly cash assistance of KES 2,700 (€25/£23) with those in their communities not directly targeted by the programme, yet are in critical need of help. This is a strong indication that even those that were thought to be less vulnerable have also lost the little muscle they had to deal with the effects of the drought.

Helping the most vulnerable

“We are illiterate and vulnerable, if we raise complaints we might not get our cash,’’ said Kasim Makala, 46-year-old mother of eight, who has previously received similar help.

While we must recognise the efforts of those who are responding to the crisis, there is certainly more that should be done now to ensure that affected communities get the help they need. More resources are urgently required to reach the rising scale of need.

Everyone must play their part. Local, national and international actors must complement the efforts being undertaken by the Kenyan government and humanitarian agencies and ensure that affected communities are able to cope with the effects of the prolonged drought.

Across East Africa, Yemen and north-east Nigeria, some 30 million people are experiencing alarming hunger, surviving only on what they can find to eat. Famine is already likely happening in parts of northern Nigeria, while Yemen and Somalia are on the brink. This is the largest hunger emergency in the world.

Oxfam is there

Oxfam is on the ground in all areas, reaching the most affected with the emergency help they need to survive. We are:

·         Working with local partner organisations who provide emergency food distributions and work with vulnerable people to produce their own food and other income;

·         Providing emergency water and sanitation, to stop the spread of diseases like cholera and diarrhoea;

·         Providing cash and vouchers so people can purchase the food they need to survive;

·         Trucking in urgently-needed water to the worst drought-affected areas;

·         Constructing showers and toilets for those who have been forced to flee their homes.

What you can do now

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