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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.

21 April, 2017

HORN, EAST, CENTRAL AFRICA

South Sudan: A renewed push by government forces has occurred in Jonglei (in the east) in the past few days as a quick tactic to secure territory before the annual rainy season halts activity. About 90,000 people are now camped in settlements not far from three of our bases, while many more will have fled into the bush. Teams in Juba are packing helicopters with emergency food, water treatment kit and repair tools, to send to the settlements with a small team of engineers who will assess the situation and start giving out emergency supplies and repairing water sources. We're planning more distributions over the coming days. The worry is that if the government continues to push on to the rebel-held town of Akobo it will cause another huge outpouring of refugees into neighbouring Ethiopia. Staff who travelled recently elsewhere in South Sudan report high levels of fear among displaced communities who have no foreseeable plans to try to go home. Our teams are drafting in additional support from staff in Asia to help with our response, which needs to be extremely agile at responding in such fast-changing conditions.

Somalilandstrong>: "We will live with water trucking and we will die with water trucking". This is what villagers in Somaliland told our team, which has been travelling round the areas we are now helping supply with trucked water through a local organization. Surface water is in particularly short supply when conditions are as dry as this, and some of the sources they saw are very contaminated. Available water can also be saline which makes even purification fairly pointless. We have managed to get drinkable water to 12,000 people in the last couple of weeks, and we will be starting to distribute cash to 10,000 people in two of the districts worst affected by the drought; $135 per family per month for three months to tide them over. Food and other basics are available if traders know communities have money to spend. We hope to be starting work in a third district soon. The April rains are due and there has been some rain, but it's predicted to be less than needed, in which case we will need to keep supporting people throughout this year. The possibility that famine will be declared in South-Central Somalia at some point is very worrying.

Sudan:The number of refugees entering Sudan from South Sudan has increased - 85,000 since the beginning of the year. The Government is reducing restrictions on humanitarian agencies operating in the area, and UN teams are able to access areas that have been off-limits for five years. We are working in Nimer and Kario camps in East Darfur where there are about 33,000 new refugees, arranging for latrine slabs and basic household items to be dispatched from Khartoum.

ASIA

Sri Lanka: We have distributed two month's-worth of cash to 700 families badly affected by this year's drought, using a leading mobile communication company which we will also use to research what the targeted households spent their money on. After collaborating with government water authorities to identify some of the worst-hit areas we are planning to install two Skyhydrant water filtration units with the capacity of 15,000 liters per day in two districts. Ultimately we plan to support 30,000 households (about 10% of the total number of affected people), and we are currently making an assessment of how the drought is affecting women and men differently. Looking to the longer term, we are working on weather index insurance, improved water management systems, and piloting some innovative community-based automated early warning systems.

07 April, 2017

HORN, EAST, CENTRAL AFRICA

Somalia: The assessment made by a team in Jan-Feb has resulted in a programme through two good local organisations. They are based in the semi-autonomous region of the country known as Somaliland, where communities have exhausted all their means to support themselves through this crisis - their livestock dying, their cash pooled to pay for water supplies that might be contaminated. We closed our programme in Somalia eighteen months ago so this marks a return for us, and our small team has had to accomplish a lot in a short time. This week one of our partners began trucking clean water to areas of severe shortage (reaching 13,000 people), and we are arranging to give cash next week to communities to buy the commodities they currently cannot access. We will be sending in equipment to help our work - bladder tanks, tapstands, water testing kits etc - from the warehouse in the UK.

South Sudan regional crisis: The numbers of people fleeing the country jumped again recently. In the first two weeks of March more than 41,300 South Sudanese refugees arrived in Uganda, over 7,200 in Ethiopia's Gambella region (at a rate of 660 per day compared to 200 per day in February), and over 10,000 went into Sudan (around 690 per day). Bidi-Bidi settlement in Uganda - about 40 km from the border with South Sudan - now has 270,000 residents and has become the world's largest refugee camp. Oxfam is working in Bidi-Bidi, and we are part of a government assessment to locate new sites.

MIDDLE EAST / NORTH AFRICA

Syria: At the beginning of the year nearly 2 million people in Aleppo were left without drinking water because the main source located at the Euphrates River was under ISIS control. The Syrian army took control of the water plant on the river in early March, but frequent power cuts, low pressure of pumped water, damage to the network, and lack of household water storage tanks have continued to constrain water supply, and people rely in large part on a number of wells situated at varying distances. Since December 2016 Oxfam has been helping repair several of these wells, while distributing thousands of family hygiene kits (with soap, washing powder, shampoo, and sanitary pads), blankets, jerry cans, water bottles, buckets, and floor mats, and installed several communal latrines.

Yemen: Over the last year our programme in Yemen has been huge, supporting one million people with access to water and over 200,000 people with cash. An innovative and cost-effective means of supplying water has been through the use of solar panels which we are installing at all programme sites and which minimise the need for expensive fuel. And we have been steadily increasing the number of local organisations we work through - from 3 to 9 over the past year - whose understanding of local matters is vital to responding effectively. We also manage a network of 800 volunteers who can access the hard-to-reach areas that we might not. We remain very concerned about longer term food supplies - while markets do still function, we are not confident that the port at Hodeidah

LATIN AMERICA & CARIBBEAN

Colombia: Floods and landslides hit the city of Mocoa in southern Colombia, which is situated at the point where three rivers converge.  Several hundred people were killed and about three-quarters of the 45,000 inhabitants were affected, particularly those living on the river banks (families already displaced by the country's conflict).  The floods and mud damaged electricity and water networks leaving the town without power or drinking water for a few days. Oxfam has two local partners working in the area which began responding the day after the disaster, and we are supporting them to provide basic necessities in shelters for homeless people. Oxfam staff will work to reconnect water networks and supply sanitation facilities, targeting mainly rural areas which have been cut off from access to markets and communities not receiving assistance from the Government.