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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.

13 September, 2017


Ethiopia: The situation in Somali province remains bad and could still get worse; even if the next rains are good it will take several more months for livestock to recover and crops to grow. Our response to the drought (water trucking, improving boreholes, setting up water tanks at hospitals) has now reached 670, 873 people which is impressive given the distances to travel and the scattered nature of populations. In Gambella in the West, a sudden new influx of refugees from South Sudan (mostly women, children, and elderly people) has left thousands of people with no accommodation, basically 'sleeping in sludge'. We are working with the UN to move them into an established camp but this will effectively double the size of it, so we will also be expanding our activities there to ensure everyone is catered for.


Myanmar/Bangladesh: Last week the estimate that possibly up to 300,000 people might arrive in Bangladesh from Myamnar was put forward as a worst-case scenario. This week the number has already risen to 370,000, and it continues to rise. Oxfam has declared this a Category 2 crisis and begun a response; the first specialist staff have arrived in-country, and latrine kits and other essential items from our stores are being distributed. Our response will focus first on improving public health conditions (water supplies and sanitation). Mobility restrictions on the part of refugees mean they may not be able to make the most of cash grants, in which case we will distribute food supplies at least in the immediate term.


Regional - hurricane Irma: Two of the Caribbean countries we work in, Haiti and Dominican Republic, luckily escaped the worst of last week's hurricane. In each case our existing field teams are mounting small responses to do what is needed to improve public health and prevent disease outbreaks. In Cuba the hurricane caused considerable damage to roads, homes, electricity supplies etc, and we have teams out assessing needs now.

6 September, 2017


Uganda: So far, our emergency response has reached nearly 285,000 refugees from South Sudan, but numbers continue to rise across the country. Estimates suggest there are over one million of them right now, and the resources needed to cover all their emergency needs are not there. We are all working hard to reduce dependence on expensive trucking operations in Bidibidi and Imvepi settlements, by getting new water sources into use. Rains are making everything harder, flooding bridges into camps, damaging food supplies, and hampering latrine and shelter construction. Malaria and respiratory infections remain a high risk. There is also a huge amount to be done to maintain protection standards in the camps and ensure residents feel safe. This is especially true for young women as there is a high rate of underage pregnancy reported.


Nigeria: Oxfam recently welcomed a new addition to the confederation; Oxfam Denmark, known as IBIS. IBIS brings an education specialism to what we already do in emergencies, and their staff are beginning a pilot programme to provide schooling to 300 young people (10-20 years old) in Damboa in northern Nigeria. The curriculum will include numeracy, literacy, and life skills, and our efforts have been endorsed by the Ministry of Education. If successful we could extend this work to other areas.


Iraq: The battle to oust IS forces from Tel Afar is a smaller one than the battle for Mosul, but it means tens of thousands more people are moving out of the town to seek safety. Oxfam was already working at various sites where people are coming to and we have been busy setting up water tanks, latrine blocks, making water potable, and distributing basic items. The big military offensives are now largely over and the peaks of displacement are probably passed. Now is the time to support people as they are moved from transit sites to interim camps with decent facilities where they can stay until they can go home. People are already starting to return to East Mosul.


Myanmar- Bangladesh: A fresh outbreak of violence in Rakhine state is causing hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims to flee their homes. Lack of access to the area means accurate estimates are hard to make, but the numbers arriving in neighbouring Bangladesh over a three-week period alone are overwhelming existing systems. Oxfam works in Central Rakhine and Kachin states but we don't have access to northern Rakhine where this is happening. In Bangladesh however we are launching a Category 2 response to the situation around Cox's Bazar, where official numbers in camps amount to at least 130,000 with a further 140,000 with host communities or camping on highways and makeshift settlements. We will begin immediate water trucking activities, installing portable latrines, and distributing basic items like shelter materials and jerry cans from our contingency stocks, through local organisations. 

Sri Lanka: Up to 200,000 people were made homeless by severe flooding in the South-west of the country. The Government is managing the response and is trying to reallocate land and support people with rebuilding costs. In the meantime, many of the poorest people have no option but to stay in camps until relocation is possible. We are in the areas responding; we set up an early supply chain mechanism to procure relief items for the whole aid effort, and are supporting local organisations to deliver clean water, provide sanitation facilities and shelter materials, and distribute cash grants to help people buy food and other essentials. 


Regional - hurricane Irma: As hurricane Irma batters the Caribbean, we have teams on standby to help communities in Haiti where we have existing programmes and capacity. The storm is on course to skirt the northern tip of the country which may mean communities escape the worst of it; however, large-scale deforestation across the North makes the landscape particularly vulnerable to even moderate rainfall. And 6-metre waves can also cause significant damage. We have stocks of relief items ready, and additional staff have gone to Haiti to support existing teams.

Mexico: A powerful earthquake has hit the Pacific coast of southern Mexico-Guatemala. We have partners in the area and our staff are in touch with them to see what they might need.