Human rights in crisis in 2013: Oxfam is there

Louis Belanger

Blog post by Louis Belanger

Oxfam International, Media Officer
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In times of crisis, it’s always the poorest people who have to struggle hardest to cope and survive. That’s where Oxfam comes in. We have again been helping people caught up in the world’s biggest crises of 2013.

We witnessed a continuing barrage of natural disasters, such as floods, hurricanes and cyclones. And conflicts around the world have again torn apart the lives of millions of people, trapping them in vicious cycles of violence and poverty.

Oxfam works for the safety and dignity of all people in these kinds of crises. We work to enhance their ability to stand up for their rights and to recover and rebuild better lives. We help people to strengthen their own resilience to withstand unexpected shocks.

2013 was a particularly challenging year.

1. Syria crisis

The war in Syria and its terrible effects on ordinary Syrians dominated the humanitarian picture. The international community’s response was mixed. The UN launched its biggest-ever appeal for more than $6 billion. However, the number of refugees increases daily and outside powers continue to flood arms into combatants on both sides. Oxfam is working in Lebanon and Jordan to bring vital assistance to refugees, as well as providing clean water to more than 250,000 people inside Syria. We are also campaigning for more and better aid, and for cessation of hostilities and a political solution to the crisis, including countries stopping their flows of arms.

2. Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines

In the Philippines, our country team has been responding from the outset since Typhoon Haiyan hit the east coast, providing water, hygiene kits, seeds and much more to tens of thousands of people in need.

3. Yemen, the "forgotten" crisis

In Yemen, Oxfam continues to play a central role in the humanitarian effort for this “forgotten” crisis in creative ways, for instance giving vouchers for food, water and other essential aid to Yemenis across the country.

4. Conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo

In the DR Congo, Oxfam has been a vital humanitarian actor for years. 2013 was no exception. We have provided aid to hundreds of thousands of people over the decades of this conflict.

5. Somalia

In Somalia, Oxfam continued to work with inspiring partners operating in extremely difficult conditions all across the country, as well as in Somaliland and Puntland.

6. Gaza

In Gaza, five years of blockade is taking its toll. This year, fuel has become too expensive for many families living in the strip, as well as for businesses and local authorities. In recent weeks, several water storm lagoons and pumping stations across Gaza city overflowed, flooding residential areas. Oxfam has been helping the most vulnerable people.

7. Mali

In Mali and all across the Sahel region, Oxfam was present and actively working in 2013 – and now this year – to bring relief to hundreds of thousands of people affected by the recent conflict in Mali.

8. Haiti

In Haiti, after years from the devastating earthquake, Oxfam is a leader in providing water and basic hygiene facilities to the poorest of Haitians.

Campaign successes

We have also had numerous campaign successes. Here are a few key successes and things to remember for 2014:

1. Arms Trade Treaty

Oxfam was a key member of the civil society coalition that successfully campaigned for a global Arms Trade Treaty. This first ever international agreement to regulate the trade in conventional weapons came after a long and arduous fight. The treaty now has more than 100 signatures and every day more countries ratify this important text which will truly make a difference in our world being a safer place.

2. Somalia remittances

The Oxfam Somalia team played a key role in delaying a decision by UK bank Barclays to stop its service that allows Somalis working overseas to send money back to relatives living at home. Through a series of media briefings and targeted lobby work, Oxfam helped to bring this important issue to the world attention.

3. Syria conflict petition

Meanwhile at the G8 Oxfam worked to highlight the human cost of the Syrian conflict on our TV screens with a creative stunt in Belfast and interviews, including delivering a petition with more than 100,000 signatures calling for peace talks.

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