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Emergencies headlines from around the world

These headlines give the most recent updates from the current work, and areas of concern, of the whole Oxfam confederation. For further information on any of Oxfam's emergency response programmes around the world please contact the Humanitarian HelpDesk in the first instance. Please note, this page represents the latest updates where available and not a list of current activities.

03 March, 2017


South Sudan: After last week's declaration of famine in parts of South Sudan, Oxfam is finalising plans to scale up in some of the areas worst hit by the food crisis. In Panyijar, where thousands of people have fled fighting to shelter on remote islands in the middle of dense swamps, we'll be expanding a canoe voucher programme which has already helped thousands of the most vulnerable to access aid. Without the vouchers we provide, many would not be able afford the journey to the mainland where aid is distributed. This could either leave them going without vital aid or wading for hours through the thick bogs, often carrying young children and then risking spilling supplies on the way back from collection. We'll also expand food assistance programmes in Panyijar, in former Jonglei State and in drought-hit Kapoeta in the south-east of the country. Another key cog in our response to the food crisis will be continuing to improve access to safe water sources and sanitation facilities and promoting good hygiene. Getting these three things right is always necessary, but where people don't have enough to eat and malnourishment is already rife, the risk posed by water-borne diseases becomes even more dangerous.


Yemen: As millions of people in war-torn Yemen continue to endure disastrous conditions, fighting in the port town of Hodeida is restricting aid agencies from getting much-needed food into the country. If the port closes, there will likely be a rapid and considerable deterioration in a country that is already teetering on the brink of famine. As it is, this is already an emergency of huge proportions, and Oxfam is planning to further increase our response as severe food insecurity looks set to worsen.


Zimbabwe: This week the government of Zimbabwe declared a state of national disaster in response to the torrential rains and heavy floods that have swept across southern parts of the country. Hundreds of thousands of people have been affected in the southern provinces of Zimbabwe, with 246 people killed, 2000 currently homeless, and over 100,000 without safe drinking water and enough food. Meanwhile, government agencies are reporting that 85% of the country's dams are full and even low levels of rainfall could trigger more flooding. The effects of a powerful Cyclone Dineo have been further compounded by the fact that the country had already been receiving above average rains since December, as result of the La Nina weather phenomenon.

Oxfam and our partners in Zimbabwe are currently responding to the crisis in Mberengwa District, which is one of worst affected. We've been distributing jerry cans, soap, water and water treatment chemicals, as well as conducting hygiene promotion sessions with affected households. Oxfam is also providing logistical support to the government of Zimbabwe to deliver grains and rice, and our staff remain on standby to support in other districts.

24 February, 2017


Oxfam is warning that the world stands on the brink of an unprecedented four famines in 2017 due to a catastrophic failure of the global community to uphold its obligations to the most vulnerable of people. "Oxfam today calls on donors to take immediate action to help as many as 20 million people now at risk of starvation.

Famine was declared this week in parts of South Sudan. In northern Nigeria it is likely that some 400,000 people living in areas cut off from aid are already suffering famine. Both Yemen and Somalia stand on the brink. The primary driver of these crises is conflict, though in Somalia it is drought.

Donor countries have failed to adequately support efforts to resolve these conflicts and, in Yemen, are actually fuelling the conflict through arms sales. They now have a moral obligation to meet the $4.4 billion needed for a humanitarian response at the required scale. They need to find political answers to the causes of the collapse of these countries into such catastrophic levels of suffering.

Mark Goldring, Chief Executive of Oxfam GB said: 'Famine does not arrive suddenly or unexpectedly. It comes after months of procrastination and ignored warnings. It is a slow agonising process, driven by callous national politics and international indifference. It is the ultimate betrayal of our common humanity.'

Half-hearted responses to UN appeals have short-changed the aid effort to save people's lives. This must not continue. Governments need to act now to fully fund the aid effort."

Read the full press release here.


South Sudan: On Monday the government of South Sudan declared famine in parts of former Unity State, where three years of war and spiralling economic problems have left 100,000 people on the brink of starvation. Half of the country's population is expected to be affected by extreme hunger by July and more than one million children under the age of 5 are acutely malnourished, leaving their lives at risk. It's possible that famine will spread as the country heads deeper into the lean season, but the very worst can be averted as long as aid is allowed to access the worst affected areas. Oxfam is already working in Panyijar county, very close to where the famine has been declared, and we're now going to scale up activities there. This will mean more food, water and sanitation assistance. Panyijar receives many people from Leer - the county that is already in famine - who leave their homes in search of aid and safety. Not only is the area facing famine, but we're also responding to a cholera outbreak in swampy land around Nyal, just south of Leer. Here, we've been digging and repairing boreholes to provide clean water sources, as well as promoting good hygiene practices. We're also going to scale up operations in former Jonglei state, another of the areas most affected by the food crisis.

All of this comes in the context of a brutal civil war in which civilians including women and children have been attacked, schools and hospitals have been looted and burned and over 3.4 million people have been forced from their homes. The dry season, which will run until May, brings mixed blessings because although it means aid can more easily reach remote areas, it also brings an escalation of conflict as armed groups move around more easily. Either way, the need to get emergency stocks in place before the rains hit is urgent. Oxfam already has a large programme in the country. Last year our humanitarian team, based in six locations around South Sudan, supported over 400,000 people.


Chad: Of the limited media attention given to the food crisis in the Lake Chad Basin, most has been on Nigeria, but Oxfam has also been responding in Chad itself. Because of fears that Boko Haram militants would make their way into the country by crossing the islands that dot Lake Chad, all human presence was outlawed on them. This had the knock on effect of taking away the livelihoods of many who relied on the islands as fishing bases, sparking another food crisis. Since then Oxfam has been providing cash to those who can access functioning markets, as well as support in growing food and access to drinkable water by drilling boreholes. In total we've supported 40,000 people across the north of the country.


Iraq: The Iraq government-led offensive to retake the west part of Mosul stepped up this week and with the city's airport now retaken, we're expecting fighting to spread into densely populated areas soon. Having been under siege conditions for the past few months, with very little getting in our out of the city, civilians are likely to be in need of urgent help. The latest fighting in villages around Mosul has resulted in a steady trickle of people being displaced, but many more will come in the next few weeks and months. As previously reported, we've positioned ourselves well in areas where most of those who flee will travel. Some of those who fled eastern Mosul in the previous offensive have tried to return but in reality this part of the city is now quite unsafe. Sporadic ISIS attacks continue and there have been reports of banditry. This is just the beginning of what is likely to be an extremely difficult and protracted crisis.