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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.

15 November, 2017


The latest news from our teams in the camps around Cox's Bazar report that in these densely packed environments people are scared of even leaving their shelters to use facilities in case they cannot find their way back. It is also hilly, dark, and muddy - very difficult terrain for moving about in, especially for women who need to be covered to go out in public. All this might have lessened the prevalence of markets, yet markets are appearing as local traders set up shop. Our teams have just completed an assessment of markets and witnessed donated food for sale, which is a tactic used by people trying to afford to vary their diet. As a result we are planning a programme of giving people evouchers, to give them access to available goods such as hygiene items, fresh and dairy produce. We are also continuing a sizeable public health programme of water and sanitation, which is very well regarded by other agencies.

Iran/Iraq earthquake

The earthquake that hit the border area between these two countries was a powerful one. Damage was greater on the Iranian side - Oxfam doesn't have an existing presence in Iran (we did mount a short-term response after the earthquake that devastated the city of Bam in 2003, but that has been our only programme in Iran to date), and the Government has not asked for international assistance. We do have a team on the Iraq side, and we assessed the situation within a couple of days of the disaster. The affected region is remote and not highly populated; we will be organising some cash distributions in support of the relief effort of others.

08 November, 2017


South Sudan: The latest official predictions for food security across the country make worrying reading. Food insecurity is worsening. The latest IPC report (integrated phase classification) shows the highest proportion of the population at crisis levels of food insecurity ever recorded. Even more worryingly, these hunger levels have been recorded at harvest time when people should have crops but don't, because of the fighting. So while the pockets of extreme hunger are too small individually for Famine to be declared, the fact that more people than ever are at crisis level, and that water-borne diseases are increasing, and the longest deadliest cholera epidemic did not die down in the dry season (as normally expected), all point to a country in desperate straits. While Oxfam and other agencies can keep people from actually starving, we are only holding off the worst. South Sudan really must have a lasting peace if we are going to see any improvements.


Yemen: In an alarming new development, the Saudi regime has shut off all routes into Yemen, by road, air, and sea. Yemenis depend on imports for 90% of their basics (food, fuel, medicines) and the UN has warned that Yemen faces the world's largest famine in decades "with millions of victims" if aid deliveries are not resumed. Supplies still exist in the country so we haven't seen the full implications of such a move yet, but Oxfam staff are moving minimally to conserve fuel. Next week there is a meeting of five foreign ministries in London to discuss it, and we are lobbying hard in advance of that.

Read Humanitarian agencies condemn the closure of Yemen's air, sea and land ports for more information. 


Bangladesh: 800,000 Rohingya people have now arrived in Cox's Bazar, 600,000 of whom have arrived since the end of August. They are cramped together on about 3,000 acres of land (roughly the size of Heathrow airport). We've been there since the first people started to arrive, and to date our work (and others') has been predominantly water supplies and toilet facilities. Nevertheless, sanitary conditions are poor and we need to put more effort into waste management; Oxfam is leading the thinking behind creative ways to desludge full latrines in hilly and overcrowded sites. One solution is to introduce tiger worms and we have trialled a few which have been designated the cleanest toilets in the camps. But the quantities of human waste also risk contaminating the water table and the shallower wells (another thing that needs addressing urgently). After many agencies including ourselves distributed food aid, we are now assessing local markets (whereabouts, goods for sale, prices) to see if it would be preferable to give people cash grants.

An Oxfam brief containing testimonies from people who fled will be available soon.