The Future is Equal

disaster response

Oxfam and partners mounting a humanitarian response to help people affected by cyclone in Malawi and Mozambique

More than 80 people including women and children have been killed in Mozambique, Malawi and Madagascar, and millions more urgently need clean water, shelter and food following Cyclone Freddy – the longest and strongest tropical storm on record in the Southern hemisphere – which has damaged thousands of homes, roads, and telecommunication infrastructures.  

Oxfam and partners are currently assessing the scale of devastation in order to mount a humanitarian response to provide clean water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, as well as emergency cash and food.  

“This is a double tragedy for the people of Malawi and Mozambique as this is happening at the time when the two countries are already battered by a cholera outbreak,” said Dailes Judge, Oxfam in Southern Africa Programme Director.  

Among the hardest hit areas are Quelimane district in Zambezia Province in Mozambique, and Blantyre City, Chikwawa, Thyolo, Phalombe and Nsanje districts in Malawi.  Collapsing infrastructure particularly in the remotest areas is slowing relief efforts. Oxfam is working in close cooperation with both governments. 

Cyclone Freddy made its first landfall on the eastern coast of Madagascar on February 21, 2023, and proceeded to hit Mozambique.  The climate crisis has made extreme weather including cyclones more severe and prolonged.

“The people that contribute the least drivers of climate change are once again paying the steepest price to climate change, including their own lives”, said Lynn Chiripamberi, Oxfam in Southern Africa Humanitarian Programme Lead.  

“A comprehensive humanitarian response is urgently needed to ensure those most impacted get immediate shelter, water and food. Equally important is for rich polluting nations to pay for the climate loss and damage of these countries,” added Judge.

Cox’s Bazar camp fire: Oxfam responding with food and shelter

A fire that swept through Rohingya refugee camps of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, on Sunday has left 12,000 people homeless and in urgent need of shelter, water, sanitation, and medical services. Oxfam is mounting a response to provide immediate food and shelter to impacted people.  

“In a matter of hours, thousands of bamboo and tarpaulin shelters were destroyed along with few primary health centres, local schools, and community spaces. Thousands of families were forced to spend the night under the open sky, many without any food or water,” said Ashish Damle, Oxfam Country Director in Bangladesh.

The fire started on Sunday afternoon around 2:45 pm local time (9:45 PM NZST) in camp 11 and quickly spread to adjacent camps. While no casualties were reported, the full extent of the damage is being assessed.

“This is the second major fire that hit Rohingya camps since 2021. It took years of relief efforts to bring a semblance of normalcy to the lives of people after the first fire. To the Rohingya refugees this is a déjà vu of loss and suffering,” added Damle.  

Oxfam team is working closely with partners on the ground, assessing people’s needs; and preparing to provide most affected people with immediate food, shelter, water, and sanitation.  

Oxfam International is collaborating with community leaders, local authorities, and other partners on the ground to conduct long-term needs assessments for those affected.  

Türkiye aid dwindling in spite of dire conditions

One month on from the earthquakes that struck Türkiye killing over 45,000 people and destroying hundreds of thousands of buildings and major infrastructure, aid and donations for survivors has sharply declined in spite of continuing urgent needs.

Hundreds of thousands of families are residing in informal settlements to stay close to homes that have been destroyed, where there is little to no access to water and basic sanitation, shelter, and food. Women and children are affected disproportionately, with many fearing for their safety. Oxfam spoke with one woman who delivered a baby in a tent and had not received any medical support 10 days after giving birth.

In an area with a population of 15.2 million, almost 2 million people have evacuated from earthquake affected areas with government support or through their own means, straining the local economy and available safe housing across the country. Those who remain have no recourse but to stay outside, fearing returning indoors due to continuing aftershocks that continue to damage homes and infrastructure. The areas affected by the earthquakes in Türkiye include a large Syrian refugee population, who have already endured displacement.

Oxfam in Türkiye is coordinating with a network of grassroots women’s organisations and cooperatives, volunteers, civil society actors, and public authorities to rapidly provide food, clean water, showers, hygiene products, and blankets, and to facilitate setting up shelters. With Oxfam, women’s cooperatives are operating community kitchens and providing food to people everyday. Oxfam is also initiating the repair of water reservoirs to ensure access to clean water and setting up of toilets and showers.

In the coming months, Oxfam intends to support 1.4 million people living in the areas most affected by the earthquake by providing access to food, restoring water systems, and supporting people’s livelihoods through training and financial support.