Oxfam International Blogs - internally displaced people http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/tags/internally-displaced-people en Helping a Yemeni village fight hunger http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/17-08-17-helping-yemeni-village-fight-hunger <div class="field field-name-body"><p>We drive west through steep rocky terrain, dotted with ancient mountaintop fortresses studded with tall circular towers of rough-hewn stone. Rural Yemen is serene, isolated and medieval. We are heading from Oxfam’s emergency humanitarian office in Khamer, in the northern tribal heartland of Amran governorate, to Othman village on its western edge. <br><br>Othman’s 200 families are battling hunger, like many others across Yemen.</p><p><strong>A perilous drive</strong></p><p><img alt="Osman village in Amran governorate, A ‘Lord of the Rings’ village where 200 families are fighting hunger. Credit: Mohammed Farah Adam/Oxfam" title="Osman village in Amran governorate, A ‘Lord of the Rings’ village where 200 families are fighting hunger. Credit: Mohammed Farah Adam/Oxfam" height="600" width="900" class="media-element file-default" data-delta="1" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/yemen_dry_landscape.jpg" /><em>Osman village in Amran governorate,&nbsp; A ‘Lord of the Rings’-looking village where 200 families are fighting hunger. Credit: Mohammed Farah Adam/Oxfam</em></p><p>The drive is nerve-wracking. Our driver Abdullah says pointedly he has been driving for 10 years around these hairpin turns and vertical cliff-face drops. I think he’s noticed how scared I am. <br><br>We wave to some men and women working the tiny cultivated terraces, and to curious child shepherds moving goats and sheep through the sun-baked mountains.<br><br>We lose mobile phone reception and modern-day communication. After one and half hour of perilous ride over 27 kilometers, we descend into a valley dotted with fields of sorghum, and to a hamlet of scattered stone dwellings in the cliffs high above the valley floor. <br><br>This is Othman village.&nbsp; <br><br><strong>Food is scarce</strong><br><br>Othman’s people eke out life in stricken conditions. Food is mostly homemade bread and a boiled wild plant known locally as Cissus or Hallas. We’re here to measure how Oxfam’s cash assistance project of $98 per month for each extremely poor family has helped put food on their tables and avert starvation.</p><p><img alt="Boiled, the wild plant Cissus or Hallas as locally known, is the main food along with homemade bread that people eat in Osman village. Credit: Mohammed Farah Adam / Oxfam" title="Boiled, the wild plant Cissus or Hallas as locally known, is the main food along with homemade bread that people eat in Osman village. Credit: Mohammed Farah Adam / Oxfam" height="600" width="900" class="media-element file-default" data-delta="2" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/hallas_plant_food_yemen.jpg" /><em>Boiled, the wild plant Cissus or Hallas as locally known, is the main food along with homemade bread that people eat in Osman village. Credit: Mohammed Farah Adam/Oxfam</em><br><br>There were 80 severely malnourished children in Othman. Oxfam set up cash assistance projects around the Khamer district, with other agencies, to buttress their battle against starvation. The children got health treatment from our partners, while Oxfam gave cash to the most desperate of the families here. We also ran a program to raise their awareness about malnutrition and good hygiene.<br><br><strong>No teachers for the schools</strong><br><br>At Othman school, a frail old man whirls black prayer beads through his fingers, leaning against the wall of a classroom. The school rooms are used for community meetings only now. There are no teachers in Othman.<br><br>The village announcer shouts out over the loudspeaker: “Oxfam is here to monitor the conditions of the malnourished children.” Curious folk join us. Parents have dressed their children, who before had been on the brink of death, in their very best clothes. They seem well on the mend. Over the four-month duration of our cash assistance project in Othman we’ve reduced malnutrition by 62%.</p><p>Though pale, these children are no longer on the verge of starvation.</p><p><strong>You’ve saved our lives</strong></p><p>Nine-month-old Mohamed Amin, the youngest of five siblings and still tiny, is cradled by his father. He has certainly been saved from an early unnecessary death, by a small assistance.</p><p>Crammed into a classroom, we ask about Oxfam’s work. How many times do you eat a day? How is the baby’s condition?&nbsp; What do you do for a living?&nbsp; And so on.</p><p><strong><img alt="Rabee Qassem holds his young daughter while worrying for her future. He&#039;s one of thousands that used to receive Oxfam&#039;s cash assistance in Amran governorate. Credit: Mohammed Farah Adam / Oxfam" title="Rabee Qassem holds his young daughter while worrying for her future. He&#039;s one of thousands that used to receive Oxfam&#039;s cash assistance in Amran governorate. Credit: Mohammed Farah Adam / Oxfam" height="600" width="900" class="media-element file-default" data-delta="3" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/yemen_family.jpg" /></strong><em>Rabee Qassem holds his young daughter while worrying for her future. He's one of thousands that used to receive Oxfam's cash assistance in Amran governorate. Credit: Mohammed Farah Adam/Oxfam<strong> </strong></em></p><p>Children smirk at my Arabic as their parents take turn in answering. Others nod along. <br><br>“Your assistance saves our lives,” says Rabee Qassem, holding his young daughter. <br><br><strong>The effects of war</strong><br><br>Many of these villagers used to work on small farm plots along the valley but their incomes were so meagre they could no longer afford their essential needs when the price of basic commodities skyrocketed due to the conflict and the de-facto blockade of Yemen. &nbsp;<br><br>Since the war exploded open in March 2015, more than <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-38646066" rel="nofollow">10,000 Yemenis have been killed</a> and 17 million people – 60 percent of the population – do not now have enough to eat. More than <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/mar/16/yemen-conflict-7-million-close-to-famine" rel="nofollow">7 million of them</a> are a step away from famine.<br><br>As they were here in Othman.<a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/crisis-yemen/yemen-brink-conflict-pushing-millions-towards-famine" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><strong></strong></a><br><br><strong>Hope for peace</strong><br><br>I ask the mother of 10-months old Marwan about her hopes. She takes a deep breath, a moment of silence and as she gathers her thoughts, and tears well up. “Peace! My only hope is peace,” she says. Others nod. <br><br>At the end of our meeting, I had to announce the news. “We have run out of money to continue the cash assistance.”<br><br>Their banter dies down to silence. “But why? Our situation is still miserable,” Mohamed Amin’s father says. <br><br>“The cash assistance project was funded by donors for only a specific period of time, which has come to an end. We are still looking for more donor funds but we haven’t secured any yet,” I explain. “We know your situation and we are doing our best.”<br><br>“Thank you. God will help,” says the old man with the beads.</p><p><strong><img alt="IDPs collecting water from the water distributions point at Al-Manjorah IDP&#039;s camp, Yemen. Photo: Moayed Al.Shaibani/Oxfam" title="IDPs collecting water from the water distributions point at Al-Manjorah IDP&#039;s camp, Yemen. Photo: Moayed Al.Shaibani/Oxfam" height="600" width="900" class="media-element file-default" data-delta="4" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/105265_ogb_yemen.jpg" /></strong><em>Oxfam water distribution point. Photo: Moayed Al.Shaibani/Oxfam</em><br><br>It is a wretched time. Our program was funded for four-months and – although this was made clear at the start – the people of Othman are dismayed now and afraid. It’s my job to start winding-down this part of our work now that we only have a month left of funding toward it.<br><br>We hoped to maintain it. We tried. It saved their lives. But the cruel truth is that earlier this year, the big aid donors made the tough decision to triage their money only to goverornates that were at “level 4” emergency status – that is, one level below famine. <br><br>Although still itself in an emergency situation as a village, Othman is part of a goverornate – Amran – that is classified overall as “level 3”. Therefore, there are other goverornates which are, overall, in worse straits. <br><br>Othman no longer makes the cut.<br><br>This is exactly what we mean when we say Yemen is an “<a href="http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=21496&amp;LangID=E" rel="nofollow">overwhelming</a>” crisis. Our unconditional cash transfer projects are immediate life-savers; last year Oxfam ran cash transfer projects worth nearly $4m, to more than 7,100 families in Yemen (the Othman project cost about $32k, by way of example). <br><br>But these are typically short-term and irregular projects, and with the constant funding pressure we’re forced to keep tightening our criteria of people we can help to only the most desperate.</p><p><strong>Stand with Yemen</strong><br><br>Over the last two years, <a href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/crisis-yemen" rel="nofollow">Oxfam has provided humanitarian assistance to more than 130,000 people</a> in the most dire humanitarian needs in Khamer and in three other neighboring districts. We enable vulnerable communities to access water through rehabilitation of rural and urban water networks.<br><br>We’ve invested in rain-water harvesting, repaired water networks, and provided fuel, sanitation services, solid waste management and hygiene promotion. We’ve given out winter clothes to families living in open displacement camps, helping their children to survive freezing weather. <br><br>With heavy hearts, we leave Othman and its children and their parents. <br><br>Oxfam is still running a cholera response project there, including distributing hygiene kits, but our cash assistance work in Othman is done – at least for now – decided for us, because there are "worse" priorities elsewhere.<br><br>I hope Othman’s people survive. I hope they can eventually thrive. I hope that donors can find more funding and expand the humanitarian work to the scale it needs to be, including back into the pockets of desperation like Othman. <br><br>I hope Yemen can achieve peace.<br><br><em>This entry posted by Mohamed Farah Adam, Oxfam Yemen’s Program Manager in Khamer, Amran governorate, on 17 August 2017.</em></p><h3>What you can do now</h3><p><a rel="nofollow" href="https://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/crisis-yemen"><strong>Please donate to Oxfam's Yemen Appeal</strong></a></p><p><strong><a href="https://blogs.oxfam.org/en/search/node/yemen">Read more blogs on Yemen</a></strong><em><br></em></p><p><em>&nbsp;</em></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Helping a Yemeni village fight hunger</h2></div> Thu, 17 Aug 2017 13:11:43 +0000 Guest Blogger 81174 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/17-08-17-helping-yemeni-village-fight-hunger#comments One year later: Is the South Sudan crisis unique in humanitarian history? http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/14-12-15-one-year-later-south-sudan-crisis-unique-humanitarian-history <div class="field field-name-body"><h3>The world’s attention has a horrible tendency of wandering off Sudan and South Sudan’s problems before any are really solved for the future.</h3> <p><em>Jane Cocking is the Humanitarian Director of Oxfam Great Britain.</em></p> <p>Civil war erupted in South Sudan last December as President Kiir accused his onetime deputy, Riek Machar, of plotting to overthrow him and fighters loyal to Machar seized control of several towns. Within a month, perhaps ten thousand people had been killed. Hundreds of thousands fled the carnage.</p> <p>At this point almost every humanitarian agency was struggling to cope. The donor governments that had been slow to respond to signs warning of conflict in 2013 were now being equally slow to donate to the crisis. And by early May, the UN’s appeal was still short of 88% of the funds that it needed.</p> <p><strong>An <a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/pressreleases/2014-05-19/south-sudan-cholera-alert-donors-meet-pledge-funds" rel="nofollow">international meeting on South Sudan</a></strong>, in Oslo in late May, did not exactly open the floodgates of funding. But slowly and surely, the humanitarian response has grown remarkably over the course of the year. In September, I was back travelling around several parts of South Sudan. Vast numbers of people were still living with the consequences of this grim conflict. But the worst predictions of famine had not come about. In part at least because of international humanitarian aid; and a lot, of course, due to the sheer resilience of South Sudan’s long-suffering people.</p> <p>Generally speaking, independent agencies like Oxfam, donor governments and the UN were all coordinating well together. Oxfam itself was <a href="http://www.pinterest.com/pin/223702306465901444/" rel="nofollow"><strong>reaching almost 350,000 people</strong></a>. And now, more than $250 million has been donated since we castigated the slow response in May.</p> <p><strong>Sadly, that doesn’t mean that the plight of hundreds of thousands is anything but shocking</strong>. As well as extraordinarily committed aid workers, I met a 15-year-old girl forced into marriage to get help for herself and her siblings. I met families crammed into compounds, eating one meal a day. Perhaps worst of all, from almost everyone I spoke to, I heard a lack of hope in the future.</p> <p>Three months on, I am still in awe of the enormous amount of work that humanitarian agencies are doing in South Sudan – but so sad that the predictions of increased violence I heard in September seem to be coming tragically true. One ceasefire agreement after another has not been respected. The hope that was once so strong with the coming of independence in 2011 has disintegrated into violence and antagonism. 1.3 million people are displaced within their country, 450,000 are refugees abroad, and four million people need humanitarian aid. A hundred thousand people who have fled to UN camps for safety are simply too frightened to leave them. It is a situation unique in humanitarian history.</p> <p><img alt="United Nations in Juba. Photo: Mackenzie Knowles Coursin/Oxfam" title="United Nations in Juba. Photo: Mackenzie Knowles Coursin/Oxfam" height="763" width="1220" class="media-element file-default" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://l.blogs.oxfam/sites/default/files/un-house-juba-ous.jpg" /></p> <h3>A year of suffering</h3> <p><strong>At the end of this year of suffering</strong>, what does all this say for the future? If there is anything positive, it is that there has been a remarkable improvement in the humanitarian response since the country descended into violence twelve months ago, when most agencies were taken by surprise. That response has saved lives and, for now at least, prevented the worst predictions of famine from coming to pass.</p> <p>What 2015 will bring is another question. So too is what the world can do when a humanitarian crisis is effectively created, not by climate change, drought or disaster – but by the conflict and ambition of political leaders. This is not a new challenge for us all. Thirty years ago, the terrible famine in Ethiopia was driven, in part at least, by that country’s long-running civil war, which international diplomacy noticeably failed to resolve.</p> <p><strong>Thirty years on, diplomacy has had precious little success</strong> in ending the suffering in South Sudan. What the world must do now is not just build on the good efforts already to make sure people can reach all the aid that they need, and rebuild their lives for the future. The governments of the region must display a far greater commitment to end the conflict too. And the outside world must stick by South Sudan in a way that it really never has done before.</p> <p>It would be churlish to say that the international community forgets South Sudan. Some donor governments are very generous. World figures like John Kerry sometimes fly in. But the world’s attention has a horrible tendency of wandering off Sudan and South Sudan’s problems before any are really solved for the future.</p> <p>In 2005, the peace deal between north and south Sudan was not followed by sustained international support, but by the world’s eyes turning away from the south to the turmoil taking place in Darfur. In 2011, South Sudan’s independence was followed by generous international aid to build the new state – but not by an equal commitment to tackle the new nation’s underlying problems, or to ensure the state became truly accountable to its people. And now the last year has shown how unrealistic it is to expect Kirr and Machar to work together for a sustainable peace without the constant attention of governments of both the region and wider international community.</p> <p><strong>The crisis that began in December 2013 is not over.</strong> Without continued improved assistance, it could still get worse in 2015. The international community cannot deliver peace easily.  But it can stay with South Sudan for longer than it has in the past. And with that, it can help give South Sudan’s people a chance at least of the peace and development they hoped for only three years ago.</p> <p><em>Photo (top):Martha Nyandit waits for food to be distributed, Mingkaman camp for IDPs, April 2014. Photo: Pablo Tosco/Oxfam</em></p> <p><em>Photo (inset):A young boy trails behind his father and brother as they walk through a "Protection of Civilians" site established at the United Nations in Juba. Photo: Mackenzie Knowles Coursin/Oxfam</em></p> <p><em>Originally published by <a href="http://policy-practice.oxfam.org.uk/blog/2014/12/a-situation-unique-in-humanitarian-history" rel="nofollow">Oxfam GB</a>.</em></p> <h3>What you can do now</h3> <p><a href="http://blogs.oxfam.org/en/search/node/south%20sudan"><strong>Read more blogs on the crisis in South Sudan</strong></a></p> <p><strong>Download <a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/research/crisis-catastrophe" rel="nofollow">From Crisis to Catastrophe: South Sudan's man-made crisis - and how the world must act now to prevent catastrophe in 2015</a></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/crisis-south-sudan" rel="nofollow"><strong>Support Oxfam's humanitarian response to the South Sudan crisis</strong></a></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>One year later: Is the South Sudan crisis unique in humanitarian history?</h2></div> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 22:53:15 +0000 Jane Cocking 24343 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/14-12-15-one-year-later-south-sudan-crisis-unique-humanitarian-history#comments South Sudan, one of the most challenging places to be a humanitarian http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/14-08-19-south-sudan-one-most-challenging-places-be-humanitarian <div class="field field-name-body"><p><em>On World Humanitarian Day Pieter Struijf, Oxfam’s Program Manager for Jonglei, writes about the challenges of delivering aid in rural South Sudan and the crucial role played by the local staff.</em></p> <p><strong>South Sudan is one of the most challenging and dangerous places to be a humanitarian. This month alone, five aid workers were killed, apparently targeted because of their ethnic identity. </strong></p> <p>As Oxfam Country Director Tariq Riebl has said of this incident, ‘The senseless deaths of these aid workers, after their tireless efforts to provide assistance to the people in need, are simply incomprehensible. Aid agencies have seen increasing blocks to humanitarian aid, including the intimidation of staff providing vital assistance, at a time when the urgency of the response is only increasing.’</p> <h3>We've helped more than 500,000 people</h3> <p>Oxfam has been present in what is now South Sudan since 1983, providing humanitarian aid to people affected by conflict, drought and floods, as well as long-term development support to vulnerable communities. Over this time, we've helped more than 500,000 people and we are committed to sustained assistance during this crisis. </p> <p>Since the conflict in South Sudan started in December 2013, <strong>1.5 million people have been forced from their homes</strong>, over 10,000 people have died and 4 million people face emergency and crisis levels of hunger. </p> <p>I have spent the past three months working in Lankien and Waat in Jonglei province. This is <strong>one of the world’s most inaccessible and undeveloped places</strong>, yet communities here have willingly accepted large numbers of displaced people seeking refuge from violence. During the wet season, roads are impassable and the only way to get in or out is by helicopter. The Oxfam team works and sleeps in tents, and going anywhere requires walking through deep mud. </p> <p>Despite the difficult environment, Oxfam’s target is to help an additional 50,000 people with clean water, sanitation, and hygiene promotion over the next months. Thirty thousand people have already benefited from distributions of food and 20,000 have received seeds and fishing kits. </p> <h3>An extraordinary work in very challenging conditions</h3> <p>Humanitarians in many parts of the world face challenging conditions but it is my honest view that there are few places as difficult as the field sites in a country like South Sudan. Certainly the humanitarian work that is being done by my Oxfam colleagues, the vast majority of them South Sudanese, is extraordinary: the conditions under which they work, the security risks they face. </p> <p><strong>We have staff here who have families living in other countries, such as Ethiopia, or Uganda</strong>; they do not know in some cases how their families are doing. They have limited ability to communicate with them, they have difficulties even sending some of their salary to support their families, and yet every day they are committed to showing up for the work that we do here.</p> <p>I admire the people who have chosen to do this for their communities, for their country. Yes, they also do it for their own families as a career, but there are many easier options. <strong>They have chosen to be here and walk through mud and rain and stand at a drop zone</strong> when the World Food Programme planes drop supplies from the air, dealing with crowds and sometimes threats and everything that comes with the work we are trying to do. </p> <p>There are very few places in the world where Oxfam will ask staff to walk for twelve hours through mud and rain, in an area which is considered safe but where there are a lot of men with guns around. Oxfam asks us to do this here because it is the only way that we can get the work done.</p> <h3>It's the right time to say thank you!</h3> <p>I think it’s the right time to say thank you and to recognise <strong>the kind of personal sacrifices, the kind of difficulties, the kind of risks that people face in humanitarian work</strong> in a context like this, especially our national staff.</p> <p>I would also like <strong>to pay tribute to the resilience of the communities</strong> here. What has struck me in South Sudan is the ability of people to live through incredibly hard times and live under conditions which people in most parts of the world would consider extremely difficult.</p> <p>Ordinary people are the victims of these manmade disasters, these political problems, these conflicts that seem to go on and on and have no end in sight. <strong>How much longer will the people in this country have to live with such uncertainty about their security and the future of their children?</strong></p> <h3><a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/crisis-south-sudan" rel="nofollow">Support our humanitarian work in South Sudan</a></h3> </div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>South Sudan, one of the most challenging places to be a humanitarian</h2></div><ul class="links inline"><li class="translation_es first last"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/es/blogs/14-08-19-sud%C3%A1n-del-sur-uno-de-los-lugares-m%C3%A1s-dif%C3%ADciles-para-los-trabajadores-humanitarios" title="Sudán del Sur, uno de los lugares más difíciles para los trabajadores humanitarios" class="translation-link" xml:lang="es">Español</a></li> </ul> Tue, 19 Aug 2014 10:43:35 +0000 Pieter Struijf 12464 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/14-08-19-south-sudan-one-most-challenging-places-be-humanitarian#comments South Sudan's young refugees in Uganda: a hope for peace http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/14-06-20-south-sudan-young-refugees-uganda-hope-for-peace <div class="field field-name-body"><p>A lanky boy wearing torn shorts and ill-fitting black sandals adorned with pink plastic hearts emerged from a grass-thatched hut and walked towards me.</p> <p>In perfect English, Jacob explained how he had come to live in this remote refugee settlement, one of scores of camps being carved out of the forest across several districts of Uganda bordering South Sudan. 18 months ago he had been one of the privileged few South Sudanese attending high school in Uganda’s capital Kampala. But then a few months ago he received the call that would change his life.  </p> <p>Jacob’s father had phoned to say that the family’s shop in South Sudan had been looted and destroyed. With conflict raging between rival factions of the country’s ruling party, he and nine other family members had fled to Uganda.</p> <h3>Suddenly a refugee</h3> <p>There would be no more money for tuition. Jacob and his older sister could finish the remaining few days of the term, but then they would have to leave their city, their school, and their friends, and come live with the rest of the family in the refugee camp. </p> <p>Hearing Jacob’s story, I was struck with a powerful sense of sadness—and déjà vu. Nearly a decade earlier I moved to Uganda to work with refugees living in settlements like this one.</p> <p>My job then involved interviewing hundreds of South Sudanese people about their situation. They explained that desperate conditions in the camps led so many parents to make the often agonizing choice to arrange marriages for their young daughters. With the “bride price” given by the groom’s family, they could pay for food, medical bills, or even school fees for younger children.</p> <p>I felt a knot in my stomach as Jacob told me about his sister Juliana. From a country where <a href="http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0019/001930/193052e.pdf" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><strong>female literacy rates</strong></a> have long been in the single digits, their father had encouraged her to delay marriage until after graduating high school. Now, it seemed only a matter of time before an old pattern would reemerge for Juliana—and for many girls like her.</p> <h3>South Sudan crisis in context</h3> <p><strong><a href="http://unmis.unmissions.org/Default.aspx?tabid=515" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Sudan’s 2005 peace agreement</a></strong> ended more than two decades of civil war, paving the way for South Sudan to achieve its independence and for hundreds of thousands of refugees to return. Day after day, I had heard women’s joyful cries as the huge white United Nations trucks left the camps with excited, if a bit nervous, refugees finally heading home. Now, many of those same hopeful people—and thousands upon thousands of others—have been forced to flee their homes again as violence again spreads across South Sudan after precious few years of peace. </p> <p>With approximately <strong>one and a half million South Sudanese displaced, and more than four million people in urgent need of aid</strong>, it is easy to lose hope. But we shouldn’t.</p> <p>In 2007, a teenage girl in South Sudan had a better chance of dying in childbirth than graduating high school. Since then, thanks to the efforts of millions of aid workers, teachers, and average citizens and the support of a committed international community, those odds had begun to change.</p> <p>Much of this life-changing development work has, understandably, now been redirected to meet <strong><a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/southsudan" rel="nofollow">South Sudan’s urgent humanitarian needs</a></strong>, but it is not too late to stop these hard-won gains from being lost.</p> <p>First and foremost, we need to support development where possible in South Sudan, but with the number of people displaced rising across the region— another refugee <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/oxfam/12810235253/in/set-72157641596864375" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><strong>crosses the border to Uganda</strong></a> every seven minutes—we must also invest in the tens of thousands of promising young people like Jacob and Juliana who will be living outside their country for years to come.</p> <h3>An opportunity to help</h3> <p>Amidst such immense human suffering, we have a rare opportunity to do things better this time.</p> <p>People like Jacob, who talks about national unity and rejects efforts to divide his country along tribal lines, are among South Sudan’s best hopes for a peaceful future. If we <strong><a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/southsudan" rel="nofollow">act now</a></strong> to provide him and others with opportunities to study, get vocational training, or earn some money for their families, we can prevent a new generation from falling prey to early marriage, alcohol abuse, and a lifetime of fighting.</p> <p>If we invest now in reconciliation and peace building programs, we can bring communities together once and for all. If not, any peace will be fleeting, and children like Jacob will be unable to live up to their potential to make South Sudan a better country for all its citizens.</p> <p><em>To preserve their privacy, the names of people in this piece were changed.</em></p> <h3>You may also like</h3> <p><a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/southsudan" rel="nofollow"><strong>Please support Oxfam's work in the South Sudan crisis</strong></a></p> <p><strong>Share: <a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/policy/above-beyond-voices-hope-south-sudan" rel="nofollow">Above &amp; Beyond: Voices of Hope from South Sudan</a></strong></p> <p><strong>Watch: <a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/video/2014/south-sudan-other-side-war" rel="nofollow">South Sudan, from the Other Side of the War</a></strong></p> <p><strong>Read the report: <a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/policy/south-sudan-food-crisis-loaded-guns-empty-stomachs" rel="nofollow">Loaded Guns and Empty Stomachs. Fixing a food crisis and preventing a catastrophe in South Sudan</a></strong></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>South Sudan&#039;s young refugees in Uganda: a hope for peace</h2></div><ul class="links inline"><li class="translation_es first"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/es/blogs/14-06-20-jovenes-refugiados-en-uganda-la-esperanza-de-sudan-del-sur" title="Jóvenes refugiados en Uganda: la esperanza de Sudán del Sur" class="translation-link" xml:lang="es">Español</a></li> <li class="translation_fr last"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/fr/blogs/14-06-20-meilleur-espoir-paix-soudan-sud-jeunes-ouganda" title="Ils représentent le meilleur espoir de paix pour le Soudan du Sud : rencontre avec de jeunes réfugiés en Ouganda" class="translation-link" xml:lang="fr">Français</a></li> </ul> Fri, 20 Jun 2014 00:17:14 +0000 Noah Gottschalk 10694 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/14-06-20-south-sudan-young-refugees-uganda-hope-for-peace#comments An incredible story of survival against all the odds in South Sudan http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/14-05-16-south-sudan-incredible-story-survival-against-all-odds <div class="field field-name-body"><p><strong>A major humanitarian crisis is unfolding in South Sudan where more than a million people have been forced from their homes by fighting. These people need water, food and protection from the violence. Below is one mother’s incredible story of survival against all the odds.</strong></p> <p>Martha Nyandit (42) and her six children are amongst the thousands of people who have fled several rounds of violent and bloody fighting in and around the town of Bor in Jonglei state.</p> <p>With gunshots ringing through the night, Martha only had time to pick up a few things – 300 South Sudanese pounds ($95), some clothes and 10 kilos of sorghum grain before fleeing to an island in the middle of the river Nile. The island was no paradise. It was the first stop on a journey clouded by hunger.</p> <h3>"They sprayed bullets into the reeds" </h3> <p>The precious grain she had managed to rescue was whole and so needed to be ground by a hand grinder or a grinding stone, neither of which anyone among the hundreds of people on the island had with them. With nothing else to eat, Martha had to boil the grain whole. “For the adults and the older children this was okay but the small children couldn’t eat it, they complained it was tough and hard.” </p> <p>Asked how she coped with hungry children, she says: “It was a challenge and honestly, I had no method of coping with them. But some of the others hiding had some food which they shared with my children. I thank God for this help.”</p> <p>Eventually the grain and what little else others had brought ran out. The families became so desperate for food that they would travel back to the mainland in dug-out canoes, risking their lives under the sound of artillery fire to find the next meal. Then one morning, when these canoes were waiting on the shore for their owners to return, some armed soldiers stole them and crossed back over the river to the island where Martha, her family and many others were hiding.</p> <p>“The armed men came ashore and started shooting, so we quickly ran down into the reeds where they couldn’t see us. They didn’t know where exactly we were so they sprayed bullets into the reeds.”</p> <h3>Hidden in the river</h3> <p>Martha’s 11-year old son Kuol was injured by the gunfire when a bullet grazed the skin on his ankle, a lucky escape as she said several people were shot dead. At that point, with the soldiers on the island, Martha and the children had no place to hide but in the river itself. </p> <p> Martha Nyandit and her family. Photo: Pablo Tosco/Oxfam</p> <p>“I knew I had to get us down into the water for us to be safe. The water came up to my chest, I had one child on my back, the baby around my neck and one floating on my arm. The others were able to go on their own.”  </p> <p>Martha explained to my colleague Grace Cahill, how along with several other families, they spent the entire day in hiding between the river and its bank, trying to make as little noise as possible in case they were caught by the soldiers. Martha had to go to extraordinary lengths to keep her young children quiet.</p> <h3>"Where’s my brother?"</h3> <p>“Kur (aged four) kept asking me where his elder siblings had gone off on their own. He kept screaming ‘Where’s my brother? Where’s my brother gone?’ I needed to keep him quiet so lay on top of him on the shore. He had mud all over his face but it stopped the sound of him crying. I told him he must stop asking questions because we need to survive.”</p> <p>After a day spent submerged in the water, with the sound of fighting on the island and nothing to eat, the families managed to telephone relatives already in Mingkaman camp, home to thousands of displaced families like Martha’s, and got a barge sent after dark to rescue them. </p> <p>In Mingkaman the family arrived with nothing, Martha told me how she had lost the 300 South Sudanese Pounds and all of the family’s clothes in their escape from the island. But upon arrival, Martha discovered it wasn’t just clothes and money the family had lost.</p> <h3>Looking for her husband</h3> <p>“I had been asking if my husband was alive since January but people refused to answer me straight. It was not until a few weeks ago, here in Mingkaman, that a cousin came to bring me the news that he was killed.”</p> <p>Martha’s husband was a soldier in the South Sudanese government army when he was pulled into action and killed in the town of Bor. “Now I feel like it was recent even though he has been dead for three months. I used to wake up needing to get on with my day, needing to get on with things but I felt so weary, I couldn’t get things done, I needed to know where he was.”</p> <p>Martha recalled with sadness how it was her husband who had built their home back in Bor where they had two thatched huts and one smaller shelter they used as a kitchen. The family also took care of eight of their own goats.</p> <h3>"The responsibility of a single mother"</h3> <p>At the moment, Martha and her six children only eat twice a day, rather than a normal three times a day. “We eat once around 11 and 12 in the morning when I cook porridge and again between 6 and 7 in the evening. When the food is scarce I give breakfast to the children and then I eat only once.</p> <p>“When there’s no food I ask for a loan or I beg from my neighbours who have fewer children and so might have some of their ration leftover. Sometimes I feel so weak I worry I will not have enough milk for the baby.  Sometimes I’m so weak I feel like I’m going to collapse; I can’t see when I stand up.</p> <p>“Maybe one day people will see vulnerable people like us and decide to help more.” </p> <p>Asked about how she managed to be so resilient, she simply replied: “But it’s the responsibility of a single mother to put up and wait for better times.”</p> <p>Better times must come soon for this family who had already been through so much in last few months on their search for safety. </p> <h3>What Oxfam is doing in South Sudan</h3> <p>We are now supporting Martha and 95,000 other people in Mingkaman, distributing enough food to feed a family for a month. Every family receives two 50kg bags of sorghum grain, 10.5 kg of lentils and 7 liters of oil.</p> <p>In addition to food, seed and tool distribution, we are also providing a full water and sanitation response – treating water directly from the Nile so it’s safe to drink, building latrines, distributing soap and teaching people simple methods for good hygiene.</p> <p>We are also <a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/pressrelease/2014-05-19/south-sudan-cholera-alert-donors-meet-pledge-funds" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><strong>calling on the international community</strong></a> to step up diplomatic efforts to promote peace talks and saves lives with a massive injection of emergency aid.</p> <p>Until then, this rapidly worsening crisis threatens to become an even larger catastrophe. </p> <h3>Please donate to <a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/southsudan" rel="nofollow">support our response to the crisis in South Sudan</a></h3> <a href="https://audioboo.fm/boos/2176532-oxfam-s-colm-byrne-in-south-sudan" rel="nofollow">listen to ‘Oxfam's Colm Byrne in South Sudan’ on Audioboo</a> <p>// </p> <h3>You may also like</h3> <p><strong>Blog: <a href="http://blogs.oxfam.org/en/blogs/14-05-12-south-sudanese-refugee-uganda-children-strength">"My children are my strength": a South-Sudanese refugee in Uganda</a></strong></p> <p><strong>Above &amp; Beyond: <a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/policy/above-beyond-voices-hope-south-sudan" rel="nofollow">Voices of Hope from South Sudan</a></strong></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>An incredible story of survival against all the odds in South Sudan</h2></div> Fri, 16 May 2014 09:31:36 +0000 Colm Byrne 10671 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/14-05-16-south-sudan-incredible-story-survival-against-all-odds#comments Syria's women sitting in limbo http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/13-07-22-syrias-women-sitting-limbo <div class="field field-name-body"><p>I recently met Reema*, a 19-year-old Syrian girl, in a refugee camp in Lebanon. Back in Syria, Reema had her whole life before her. She'd just finished high school, and was about to go to university to study. She was eager to work and set up her future.</p> <p>Then, her family home was bombed and she, her parents and sisters had to flee. Now she sits in a camp with no chance of further education, no prospect of independence, and — in her eyes — no real hope of a better future.</p> <p>Sadly, Reema's story is <strong>just one of many</strong> among the people of Syria.</p> <p>Over the past four months, I have met many women refugees in Lebanon and Jordan. I feel honoured to hear their stories. In a crisis such as this, the views and concerns of ordinary people are often hard to find. The voices of women are especially rare.</p> <p>Many Syrian women are struggling to deal with the reality they face. Like you and me, they used to have homes, jobs, water, electricity, education and healthcare. Some are university professors, architects, and their husbands are landscape gardeners, stone masons and businessmen. Then, one day, it was all gone.</p> <h3>"I never thought this would happen to us."</h3> <p><strong></strong></p> <p>For many mothers I have met — it is their children they are most worried about. Many fled Syria because they feared for the lives of their sons and daughters. They worry that their children are no longer getting an education, that the water they are drinking is making them sick, and that they won't be able to provide them with enough food.</p> <p>Pregnant women are worried about giving birth and raising children in a camp that is dusty and dirty, where only basic medical care is available.</p> <p>Listening to these stories, I am struck by how lucky I am to have grown up in a country that is stable and prosperous like Australia. When I am sick, I go to see my local doctor. When I turn on a tap, I have drinkable water. How would I cope if tomorrow I became a refugee? I honestly don't know.</p> <p>It's not something I'm likely to face. But then, that's what the women I have met thought too. One of the most common phrases I have heard refugees from Syria say is: "I never thought this would happen to us."</p> <h3>Working with local organizations to help</h3> <p>Since the conflict started three years ago, 1.6 million** people have had to leave Syria to find safety and security in neighbouring countries, sometimes with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. Another 4.25 million people are still inside Syria, but have had to flee their homes to try to find a safe place to live.</p> <p></p> <p>Oxfam, and many others, is able to help with the immediate problems facing refugees. For example, we are working with local organisations to provide cash and vouchers so families can buy food and pay for a roof over their heads — whether that roof is a basement, part of an abandoned building, or plastic sheeting to make a tent.</p> <p>The aid that governments like Australia and individual people give is truly making a difference — it is saving lives.</p> <p>The <a href="http://blogs.oxfam.org/en/blogs/13-06-07-un-syria-appeal-governments-must-fund-aid-effort-now"><strong>UN recently asked for US$5 billion</strong></a> to provide people affected by the Syrian crisis with life-saving humanitarian assistance during 2013. It's a huge amount of money, but to provide essential aid such as food, water, shelter and medical care to the millions of people affected, it is the amount we need.</p> <h3>Making Syria safe to return home</h3> <p>What aid agencies like Oxfam can't do is make Syria safe enough for people to go home. Governments and the opposition groups inside Syria need to do that — and <strong>we strongly urge them <a href="http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/don-t-let-syria-down" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">to find a peaceful solution</a></strong> to the crisis as soon as possible.</p> <p>The women I have spoken to desperately want to go home. They love Syria. But until it is safe to do so, they sit in limbo in countries like Lebanon and Jordan — not knowing their fate.</p> <p>To help women like Reema get back on their feet, <a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/syria-appeal" rel="nofollow">donate to Oxfam's Syria crisis appeal</a>.</p> <p>*Reema is not her real name.** In the five weeks since this was written, the <a href="http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/regional.php" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><strong>number of Syrian refugees</strong></a> has increased by more than 300,000.</p> <p></p> <p><a href="http://blogs.oxfam.org/sites/blogs.oxfam.org/files/syria-clock-ticking-1400.jpg" target="_blank"></a></p> <p><strong>Please sign our petition for #SyriaPeaceTalks.</strong></p> <h3><a href="http://www.change.org/petitions/don-t-let-syria-down" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"></a></h3> <p>   </p> <h3></h3> <h3>You may also like<strong></strong></h3> <p><a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/syria-crisis" rel="nofollow">Crisis in Syria: What Oxfam is doing</a></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Syria&#039;s women sitting in limbo</h2></div><ul class="links inline"><li class="translation_es first"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/es/blogs/13-07-22-siria-nunca-pense-que-esto-podria-pasarnos" title="Siria: ‘nunca pensé que esto podría pasarnos’" class="translation-link" xml:lang="es">Español</a></li> <li class="translation_fr last"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/fr/blogs/13-07-23-syrie-femmes-refugiees-incertitude" title="Réfugiées syriennes : plongée dans l’incertitude" class="translation-link" xml:lang="fr">Français</a></li> </ul> Mon, 22 Jul 2013 18:40:08 +0000 Claire Seaward 10412 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/13-07-22-syrias-women-sitting-limbo#comments Somalia 2013 Conference: "You can’t wash your face using only one finger" http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/13-05-07-somalia-2013-conference-you-cant-wash-your-face-using-only-one-finger <div class="field field-name-body"><p><strong>Last week the UN revealed for the first time that more than a quarter of a million people died in Somalia over 18 months from October 2010-April 2012.</strong> These figures are shockingly high especially when you think about the fact that most of the deaths were probably preventable if the world had just reacted sooner to the warnings that were coming out of the region as the rains started to fail in 2010.</p> <p>Famine is not a natural phenomenon. Drought is, and in Somalia rain failures were exacerbated by ongoing conflict. But as we showed in our <strong><a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/policy/dangerous-delay" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Dangerous Delay</a></strong> report following the famine, if countries, aid agencies and the UN system had reacted sooner, the death toll would have been much less.</p> <p>This is a stark reminder to world leaders meeting in London to talk about Somalia today that action is needed to help Somalis deal with the shocks that they face.</p> <p>This means the International community and the Somali authorities must invest in long-term development. This involves “washing the face with the whole hand”*. We should be helping Somalis to rehabilitate <strong><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/oxfam/8717239392/in/set-72157633424469165/" target="_blank" title=" A woman is carrying an Oxfam bucket" rel="nofollow">water sources</a></strong> and rebuild roads. We should be supporting farmers to increase the reliability of their yields and <strong><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/oxfam/8717239214/in/set-72157633424469165/" target="_blank" title=" Agro-pastoralist communities in Somalia" rel="nofollow">pastoralists</a></strong> improve the health of their animals. We should be supporting <strong><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/oxfam/8717239056/in/set-72157633424469165/" target="_blank" title="A young girl at the market in Hargeisa, Somaliland" rel="nofollow">small scale businesses</a></strong>, such as <strong><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/oxfam/8717239312/in/set-72157633424469165/" target="_blank" title=" Market in Hargeisa, Somaliland" rel="nofollow">women milk sellers</a></strong>, and create a police force that protects people from crime. The Somali Federal Government should show it is serious about combating rape and sexual violence by investigating all rape accusations and making sure women have access to justice.</p> <p>It is crucial that women and men from across Somalia are involved in a bottom up process to determine the country's future. Top down "solutions" don't work. The country is crying out for just and sustainable peace, and the new Government must grab this moment to secure it.</p> <p>Meanwhile Oxfam has produced an exhibition of photos from across Somalia, highlighting Somalia’s rich culture and history – take a look at <strong><a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/development/somalia/different-perspective-photos" target="_blank" title=" a different perspective" rel="nofollow">Somalia: A different perspective</a></strong>.</p> <p><em>*“You can’t wash your face using only one finger” ("Far kaliya fool madhaqdo") is a common Somali proverb.</em>  </p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Somalia 2013 Conference: &quot;You can’t wash your face using only one finger&quot; </h2></div><ul class="links inline"><li class="translation_fr first last"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/fr/blogs/13-05-07-conference-londres-somalie-peut-pas-laver-visage-avec-seul-doigt" title="Conférence de Londres sur la Somalie : &quot;On ne peut pas se laver le visage avec un seul doigt&quot;" class="translation-link" xml:lang="fr">Français</a></li> </ul> Tue, 07 May 2013 12:47:59 +0000 Ed Pomfret 10308 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/13-05-07-somalia-2013-conference-you-cant-wash-your-face-using-only-one-finger#comments Syria: the world must unite http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/13-04-30-syria-world-must-unite <div class="field field-name-body"><p><strong>There are promises and promises, but we get nothing</strong>, Fatima, a refugee from Syria, told one of my colleagues in Lebanon last week. Her counterparts in Jordan where I was visiting tell a very similar story. They call for more aid for those who have fled Syria of course – but also for something to be done for the millions left behind in their country’s vicious conflict.</p> <p>Unless the world’s aid catches up with their spiralling numbers, the prospect for refugees will be grim. But it is inside Syria where children are dying from hunger in opposition-held areas, and where millions cannot reach the assistance and safety they need.</p> <p>Gulf and Western governments have given more than $800 million to the UN’s appeals for Syria and its refugees this year, quite apart from millions more that is not so clearly recorded. The point is not that little has been given. The point is that it is being dramatically overtaken by the spiralling numbers who need it – within Syria and outside it – while so little progress is being made to reach those caught in the conflict. "<strong><a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/policy/syria-overtaken-need" target="_blank" title=" The world’s failure to meet Syria’s escalating humanitarian crisis" rel="nofollow">Overtaken by Need</a></strong>" is the new Oxfam briefing today that sums this up, and calls on the world to do dramatically more.</p> <p><strong>When the new UN appeal comes out in late May</strong> – based on far greater numbers in need – the amount given so far will look alarmingly small. <strong><a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/syria-appeal" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">The need for more aid is vital and urgent</a></strong>. But it is also only the start. It is breaking down the obstacles that stop millions of Syrians reaching aid that is also absolutely vital. The scandal of 50 checkpoints – half government, half opposition – that stop aid convoys travelling from Damascus to Aleppo. The dwindling number of trucks that go through Turkey’s main crossing point at Kilis. That is the reality behind the shocking observation a few days ago, by the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, that access to those in need is getting even worse.</p> <p>From <strong><a href="https://twitter.com/WilliamJHague" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">William Hague</a></strong>, the British Foreign Secretary, to <strong><a href="http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49c3646c8.html" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Antonio Guterres</a></strong>, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, many people label Syria <strong>the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time</strong>. Almost thirty years ago, there was little doubt it was Ethiopia, where hundreds of thousands faced famine – largely in the north of the country controlled by the rebel movements of Tigray and Eritrea. </p> <p>The humanitarian answer then included two massive aid routes. With the agreement of Ethiopia’s government and rebels alike, Oxfam and Save the Children trucked vast amounts of relief from the south to the north, through the conflict’s frontlines. And with the acquiescence of all, Oxfam and others brought more over the border from Sudan, directly into opposition-controlled areas. Together, those routes saved, literally, countless thousands of lives.</p> <p><strong>Syria may or may not need exactly that answer.</strong> But it certainly needs the drive, the passionate refusal to take ‘no’ for an answer, and the determination to find ways round obstacles that characterised that aid effort then. Nothing less will do. Everyone with influence must make it clear to Syria’s government and opposition that they must do absolutely everything to allow aid to get through. <strong>The world – tragically divided over Syria so far – must unite in that call.</strong> The UN Security Council, with the authority only it has, must show that unity in action.</p> <h3>Please <a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/syria-appeal" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">donate</a> to Oxfam's Syria crisis response</h3> <h3>Related links</h3> <p><strong>Download our briefing note <a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/policy/syria-overtaken-need" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">"Overtaken by need"</a></strong></p> <p><strong>Photos: <a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/syria-crisis/photos" rel="nofollow">Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan</a></strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/syria-crisis" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"></a><strong><a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/syria-crisis" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Oxfam's response to the Syria crisis</a></strong></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Syria: the world must unite</h2></div> Tue, 30 Apr 2013 08:51:19 +0000 Ed Cairns 10299 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/13-04-30-syria-world-must-unite#comments The Philippines: Don't they know it's Christmas? http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/12-12-24-phillippines-dont-they-know-its-christmas <div class="field field-name-body"><p>In the Philippines, a strongly Catholic country, the first signs of Christmas appear months before the actual event: shops playing Christmas carols on their audio loops, brightly decorated trees, neon Santas and reindeers are colourfully displayed outside shops and plazas. It is hard to get away from the holiday over-load.</p> <p>But in Compostela Valley province, on the southern Philippines island of Mindanao, there are no obvious signs that one of the most important festive and religious dates in the country’s calendar is just days away.</p> <p>Instead,<strong> the scenery is one of utter devastation</strong>. Kilometres of crushed banana plantations; downed coconut trees; wrecked houses and public buildings. The damage wrought by Typhoon Bopha has been immense. [As of 14 December] The latest death count stands at 906, with 932 people still listed as missing. The authorities in the Philippines estimate that agricultural damage alone stands at £145 million [9696 million pesos or $235 million].</p> <p>Families here have been left dazed and traumatised, trying to make sense of it all.<strong> Tens of thousands are still sheltering in temporary evacuation centres. Their biggest immediate problem is getting enough food and water</strong>; working out how to repair or build anew their damaged homes; and figuring out a worrying and more challenging problem: how they’re going to get through not just the next few days and weeks, but the coming months and years. What they’re going to do when the emergency response mounted by local and international aid agencies winds down. How they’re going to be able to rebuild their lives, with no immediate prospect of getting work.</p> <p><strong>The most devastated areas had never before experienced a typhoon, despite the fact that the Philippines often experiences 20 typhoons every year.</strong> It was one reason that so many crop plantations have been established in this part of the country, as it was considered to be safe from violent winds and storms that often hit other parts of the Philippines.</p> <p>“My crops were all destroyed. It will take six years for the coconut plantations to be recovered”, said 80 year old farmer, <strong>Epifanio Apsay Senior</strong>, speaking from one evacuation centre in New Bataan, Compostela Valley</p> <p>“We’re very worried about the future. The support we are getting now won’t last long. It will take us years to recover; we don’t have anything. We need support from anyone who can support us, especially to find work.”</p> <p><strong>International aid agency, Oxfam and its four humanitarian partners in the Philippines</strong>, who work under the umbrella organisation known as the Humanitarian Response Consortium,<strong> are responding to immediate needs</strong>: ensuring clean, safe drinking water; establishing temporary latrines in the overcrowded evacuation centres, and spreading awareness about safe hygiene, as well as handing out shelter, hygiene and water kits.</p> <p><strong>Families living in evacuation centres in some areas where Oxfam and its partners are working have also received cash grants of 1,500 pesos</strong> (£22) allowing them to buy some basic daily necessities over the next few days.</p> <p>“With this money, I’ll buy some sheets for roofing, some housing materials, medicines and clothes for the children. I’m very happy to get this money”, said mother of five <strong>Marites Oyo</strong>, 38.“We were flooded and our house was totally destroyed. There is nothing left. Farmland was devastated. We work as day labourers and don’t have land of our own. Finding work will be hard.”</p> <p>Surrounded by families with small bundles of possessions – anything they managed to grab while running - in an open sports stadium, Marites said celebrating Christmas was far from her mind.“After the typhoon, it doesn’t seem proper to celebrate Christmas. This time, on Christmas we will pray that this kind of thing doesn’t happen again.</p> <p>Another man sheltering in the same centre, 45 year old<strong> Carmelito Gapo</strong>, a father of four, snorted when asked the same question. He used to work as a day labourer on the banana plantations.“There is no point in celebrating. We have no work and there will be no immediate work in the future. Our Christmas ‘bonus’ was to receive the typhoon”, he joked ironically.</p> <p>But, in a sign of just how religious many are here, he conceded: “Yes, I will still go to church to pray. Despite everything, we’re still grateful that we are alive.“My children are very understanding. They realise it wont be Christmas as usual. I’ve explained things to them. In the past, I provided for their needs, but this year, we have nothing. It’s the worst Christmas we’ll face.”</p> <p>Others sheltering in the stadium said the same thing. “We have no money, so the only thing we can do is to pray. It will be the hardest ever Christmas for us.and New Year will also be very difficult, ” said 71 year old <strong>Gaubiosa Cordovez</strong>.</p> <p>Mother of two, <strong>Corazon Pedrico</strong>, who lost her home and a small store said she has other things to worry about.“We will not have any celebrations; what is there to celebrate? “I don’t know how we will get by now in the future. I lost the store; and I worry how to look after the children. How can they go to school? They don’t have any school uniforms. We lost everything.” </p> <h3>Related links</h3> <p><strong><a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/typhoon-bopha-philippines" rel="nofollow">Typhoon Bopha in the Philippines</a></strong></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>The Philippines: Don&#039;t they know it&#039;s Christmas?</h2></div><ul class="links inline"><li class="translation_es first last"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/es/blogs/12-12-27-filipinas-no-saben-que-ha-llegado-la-navidad" title="Filipinas: ¿No saben que ha llegado la Navidad?" class="translation-link" xml:lang="es">Español</a></li> </ul> Mon, 24 Dec 2012 11:38:36 +0000 Caroline Gluck 10184 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/12-12-24-phillippines-dont-they-know-its-christmas#comments South Sudan: Refugees, returnees, and the family goats http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/12-11-06-south-sudan-refugees-returnees-family-goats <div class="field field-name-body"><p><strong>“Peter stop nibbling the tablecloth, shoo” – a friendly rebuke came from the Kenyan lodge owner. </strong>Peter, the errant goat looked up briefly then nonchalantly resumed his nibbling. Another goat then caught my eye – apparently Peter’s companion I was then told, George... I nearly fell off my chair as I laughed out loud, much to the bemusement of my eclectic mix of companions.</p> <p>It was my third night in South Sudan, an hour’s flight from the Capital Juba by <strong><a href="http://www.wfp.org/" target="_blank" title="World Food Program" rel="nofollow">WFP</a></strong> plane in a small town called Rumbek. My extreme amusement at the goats was because my husband who I had left just days earlier back in England and won’t see until Christmas is called Peter – and my name is George(tte).</p> Peter the goat. Photo: Georgette Thomas/Oxfam <h3>Separated from their loved ones</h3> <p><strong>The incident struck a chord</strong> as one of the first things that had become obvious during my first few hectic days in the world’s newest nation was that thousands and thousands of people living in South Sudan, for a multitude of reasons, are separated from their loved ones.</p> <p>Take my companions that night in Rumbek where we had randomly joined together to unwind and shelter from the persistent heavy rain. Anthony, a tall always impeccably neatly turned out South Sudanese man who is living away for two years from his wife and children in Uganda; Jacqui, a charismatic Australian lady who has been working as a health advisor for Oxfam for over a year and Ollie, the lodge manager who grew up in Kenya.   </p> <p><strong>Yes, South Sudan has <a href="http://www.sudantribune.com/Returnees-complain-of-high-food,42914" rel="nofollow">well documented challenges</a>, </strong>including sky high prices for even the most basic foods, fuel shortages and the depreciation of the South Sudanese Pound. But it is also a place where South Sudanese are ‘returning home’ and people from all over the world are arriving to work - whether for one of the many NGO’s here, the United Nations, to help build infrastructure such as hotels which are popping up in ever increasingly numbers in Juba or alone to hunt out a job.</p> <p>There is the smell of opportunity here, the chance to play a small part in building a strong future for this newly independent nation or the belief that a better life can be created here and despite the high cost of living the hope of a better wage.   </p> <h3>Returnees and refugees</h3> <p><strong>A tall man called Paulo </strong>is one of the more fortunate South Sudanese returnees – a year ago he arrived with his family risking leaving their previous life behind including belongings and property and is now employed at Oxfam in Juba. But, for thousands of others the future is much less certain – often once they arrive they have no access to health clinics, schools, water and no job prospects. Small business group start up schemes and other income generating activities are some of the projects being run by Oxfam in areas where thousands of families are trying to secure a footing and reconstruct their lives in their country.</p> <p><strong>The other group of people crossing the border</strong> in huge numbers are refugees fleeing fighting(1), many of whom have been forced to separate from loved ones in order to escape to safety. Oxfam is responding to the humanitarian crisis in Maban county where approximately 109,000 refugees now live in <strong><a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/pressrelease/2012-09-21/new-sites-south-sudan-refugee-camps-must-be-found-blue-nile-confli" rel="nofollow">four overcrowded camps</a></strong>(2) supplying <strong><a href="http://blogs.oxfam.org/en/blogs/12-07-10-jamam-refugee-camp-community-approach-sanitation" title="In Jamam refugee camp, a community approach to sanitation">clean water, sanitation and running public health campaigns</a></strong>.</p> <p>With still no sign of urgently needed peace talks between the Government of Sudan and the rebels in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states it is unlikely that these people and others in additional camps in Unity State will be able to go home anytime soon.</p> <p><strong>That night in Rumbek</strong> when the rain had subsided, I stood up to head back to the <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/oxfam/8009400522/in/photostream" rel="nofollow"><strong>Oxfam base</strong></a> where a croaking chorus of frogs awaited to sing me to sleep. Noting that the mischievous Peter was still hanging around I took a quick snap, perhaps a picture to amuse me in those moments when my thoughts would float to home in the coming months.</p> <p>George, who I like to presume was a doe not a billy goat was disdainful of the photo opportunity, precociously turning her back and sauntering off probably en route to her next discovery. </p> <p><em>(1) Fighting between the Sudan Armed Forces and the <strong><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sudan_People%27s_Liberation_Army/Movement" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Sudan People's Liberation Army/Movement North</a></strong> in the Sudanese states of Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan.<strong></strong> </em></p> <p><em>(2) In a remote corner of northwest South Sudan, in one of the most challenging environments Oxfam has ever provided aid in, we are working hard to supply clean water, sanitation and running public health campaigns for around 28,500 refugees in the Jamam and Gendrassa camps. There are also other camps in Unity State hosting thousands more people – not an area where Oxfam is working.</em></p> <p><em>Georgette Thomas is an Oxfam GB Press Officer currently based in South Sudan</em>.</p> <h3>Related links </h3> <p><strong>Photo gallery: <a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/content/daily-life-jamam-refugee-camp-south-sudan" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Daily life in Jamam refugee camp</a> </strong></p> <p><strong><a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/sudan-southsudan-crisis" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Oxfam's response to the crisis in Sudan and South-Sudan</a></strong></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>South Sudan: Refugees, returnees, and the family goats</h2></div><ul class="links inline"><li class="translation_es first last"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/es/blogs/12-11-05-sudan-del-sur-familias-de-cabras" title="Sudán del Sur: refugiados, retornados y familias de cabras" class="translation-link" xml:lang="es">Español</a></li> </ul> Tue, 06 Nov 2012 11:00:03 +0000 Georgette Thomas 10034 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/12-11-06-south-sudan-refugees-returnees-family-goats#comments