Cookies on oxfam

We use cookies to ensure that you have the best experience on our website. If you continue browsing, we’ll assume that you are happy to receive all our cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more Accept

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.

16 November, 2018

Colombia: Economic meltdown in Venezuela is motivating millions of its citizens to leave seeking a livelihood elsewhere. Among the millions pouring into neighbouring Colombia, many remain on the move walking towards Ecuador and Peru but large numbers are hoping to stay on in Colombia. Official figures say there are about one million Venezuelans in Colombia right now, although the length and remoteness of the border means the actual numbers could be much bigger, vulnerable to theft of assets, being co-opted to work on coca plantations, or physical violence/rape. Emergency help for people on the move is coming from individuals who live along the routes, offering access to showers, food, and beds to people passing through, and Oxfam has begun helping some of these individuals with bedding, kitchen equipment, and foodstuffs. But larger scale support, such as better equipped transit centres and cash distributions, would better address the scale of need, as well as a campaign against rising xenophobia. So far we have an aim to help 17,000 people.

Bangladesh: Our industrial scale sewage treatment plant is open for business. It has the capacity to take 40 cubic metres of human waste per day (thus catering for 150,000 people), and is the largest ever such system to have been built in a refugee camp. Built to a German design it took seven months to construct, but the initial outlay will be more than paid back by the low operational and maintenance costs. It represents a big step forward in our ability to deal with fecal sludge in situ rather than carrying it away, and we expect to be replicating it in future crises.

Gaza: The blockade of Gaza has crippled the economy over the last 11 years - GDP is down by 50% and electricity is rationed to 4 hours per day. The effect on the water supply has been catastrophic because of the limitations on when it can be pumped or treated, and overuse of wells has depleted the groundwater and caused seawater to move into the aquifer, making it increasingly unfit for drinking. We are starting work to introduce solar energy as an alternative to cable electricity, because of its potential to power the treatment plants. This will hopefully go some way to improving the quality of the water for Gaza's inhabitants, although it's early days.

Guatemala - Mexico: On October 13, 2018, several hundred migrants (fleeing violence, poverty, food insecurity, and other hardships) departed together from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on a trek north toward the United States. Word of the caravan spread throughout the region, and numbers quickly swelled into the thousands. Oxfam is providing assistance with partners on the Guatemala-Mexico border around the town of Tecún Umán, with hygiene kits, hot meals, rehydration drinks, awnings to protect families from the sun, showers, chemical latrines, sleeping mats, kitchen equipment, and drinking water. We have also distributed information and contacts to help people report violence and human trafficking. Oxfam has called on the Mexican authorities to defend migrant rights and grant 'prima facie' recognition to the caravan (allowing refugee status to be recognized without requiring people to present their cases individually). Oxfam has reiterated its call to the governments of Guatemala, Mexico and the United States to respect the principles of non-refoulement; to provide protection to those who cannot return to their country of origin because of threats to their lives and safety; and to guarantee that children are not separated from their families.