The Future is Equal

disaster

Oxfam responds in Bangladesh and Myanmar as Cyclone Mocha leaves a trail of destruction

Super cyclonic storm Mocha made a landfall in Myanmar’s Rakhine state area, reaching a speed of 250 kmph, and crossing low lying areas including Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh on Sunday.   

According to initial reports, the impact of the powerful storm killed at least 8 people abd caused extensive destruction to infrastructure in the western Myanmar region, where thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) have been living in camps.   

Oxfam and partners are currently assessing the scale of devastation to mount a humanitarian response to provide clean water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities, as well as emergency cash and food.
     
“Our teams in Sittwe faced terrifying winds which damaged homes, toppled trees and disrupted power and communication lines. The cyclone has devastated the IDP camps in Rakhine. Connection with our staff resumed this afternoon and are steadily receiving new reports, adding to the scale of devastation,” said Rajan Khosla, Oxfam Country Director in Myanmar.  

Even before the cyclone, an estimated 6 million people were already in need of humanitarian aid in the states where the cyclone hit (Rakhine, Chin, Magway and Sagaing). Khosla, Oxfam, said that the need for essentials like shelter, clean water, sanitation will only rise.    

“The cyclone will immensely impact existing displaced people and particularly communities in Rakhine, and Chin. More resources are required, and we call on the international community to provide adequate funds required to help them live a life of dignity,” said Rajan Khosla.  

“We are working with local partners for response. Our emergency response team is ready for deployment to Sittwe, will be on their way as soon as the flight resumes to operate, and will start an immediate response,” he added. 

In Bangladesh, while the cyclone veered away its path, the strong winds blew away the temporary bamboo homes in Teknaf area of Cox’s Bazar.   
 
“It is a relief that the cyclone passed away without causing loss of life in the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar. But the makeshift infrastructure in the camps could not withstand the strong winds. We have already started our response. We distributed cash to communities ahead of the storm and provided clean water for families to survive the night. Oxfam’s main relief efforts will focus on our area of expertise: providing safe water for people, as well as sanitation supplies and public health support to help prevent the spread of water-borne diseases,” said Ashish Damle, Oxfam Country Director in Bangladesh. 

Oxfam is working closing with local communities, partners, and authorities to ensure coordination of efforts, and the safety and well-being of those residing in the camps in Bangladesh.  

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. 

Oxfam, CDRC prioritise safe water and shelter materials in distribution efforts

Oxfam staff on the ground in Cagayan have reported complete devastation of crops and destruction of significant damage to critical infrastructure like roads and bridges in the aftermath of Typhoon Mangkhut.

Oxfam has dispatched a team of experts on the ground to assess the water, public health and sanitation conditions following the storm. The team has been assessing damages and needs in towns in the northern coastal area of Cagayan, towns along the Cagayan River, and in the neighbouring province of Isabela, where significant damage to shelter, infrastructure, and agriculture has been reported.

Oxfam Country Director Maria Rosario Felizco said, “Addressing immediate needs is crucial to ensure the immediate safety and dignity of survivors; thus we are prioritising the distribution of water and shelter materials. But we must also anticipate that the survivors of Typhoon Mangkhut, especially small fishers and farmers who have lost their livelihoods, will need support far beyond the first few days of this response.”

Oxfam responder April Bulanadi said the scale of the destruction was heartbreaking. “The storm kept battering Cagayan hours after landfall. What I thought was a river in Iguig town turned out to be a completely submerged rice field.

“While I was able to see some farmers desperately harvesting crops the day before the storm hit, it was clear many were not able to do so. This is heartbreaking because it was supposed to be harvest season next month. This will have devastating impacts on small farmers, many of whom are still recovering from Typhoon Haima in 2016.”

Thousands of evacuees are currently staying inside churches and schools and do not have access to food, safe water, and sanitation. Families in some evacuation centres can only drink from hand pumps which are a kilometre away. Some have brought bottled water but supplies are limited.

Oxfam and local partners Citizens’ Disaster Response Centre (CDRC) and Cagayan Valley Disaster Response Centre are currently providing jerry cans as water containers. Oxfam is also ready to distribute shelter repair materials, like ropes, tarpaulins, nails and water kits this week.

A total of 1.5 million farmers and over 100,000 fisherfolk could be affected by the typhoon, according to government officials. Moderate estimates put potential losses to rice crops at $NZ100m, or up to $NZ220m in a worst-case scenario. Corn crops could suffer $NZ76m in losses under moderate conditions, or up to $NZ87m.

Abello-Bulanadi said rains and landslides damaged critical infrastructure like roads and bridges, making assessment difficult in some areas. “The bridge in Sta. Barbara Piat in Cagayan, which connects to other towns in Cagayan, is impassable. There are significant logistics challenges to delivering immediate support when roads, powers lines, and cell sites are down.”

William Quillopo, who lives in a coastal community in Aparri, Cagayan showed Oxfam the spot where his house used to stand. When asked by Abello-Bulanadi if he was able to save any of his possessions, Quillopo said, “I was not able to save anything. Not a single thing.”

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For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:

Kelsey-Rae Taylor | Kelsey-Rae.Taylor@oxfam.org.nz | 021 298 5894

Donations to support Oxfam’s emergency responses around the world can be made online at oxfam.org.nz/drf or by calling 0800 600 700.

Oxfam and local partners witness Mangkhut’s destructive force: Disaster preparedness committees activated

The joint assessment teams of Oxfam and its partner, Citizens’ Disaster Response Centre (CDRC), witnessed the destructive force of Ompong, known internationally as Super Typhoon Mangkhut.

The teams have been deployed to Cagayan since Wednesday to provide on-site situational updates and conduct rapid needs assessments. The community-led disaster preparedness committees of CDRC in Cagayan have been activated.

Ompong made landfall in Baggao, Cagayan at 1:40AM (PHT), bringing with it high winds and nonstop torrential rains. It is currently  heading towards Apayao and Ilocos Norte in northern Luzon. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) estimates that at least 5 million people who live in the projected path of the storm will be affected.

Oxfam responder, April Abello-Bulanadi, sent an update at 5:07 AM from Tuguegerao City, Cagayan: “The situation is very bad. The winds are howling and we can feel the destructive force of Ompong. The roof of the hotel where the response team convened has been blown away. We are on the third floor. The walls and ceiling are shaking. It has been raining nonstop. We are preparing to assess the areas near the Cagayan river, the coasts of northern Cagayan, and north Isabela.” Blackouts and intermittent cell signal issues were also reported. The greatest reported damages so far involve infrastructure, agricultural crops, and houses.

Oxfam and partners have relief items at the ready. Oxfam will also be joining the assessment and response teams of local partners, including Humanitarian Response Consortium (HRC), over the coming days.

Maria Rosario Felizco, Country Director of Oxfam in the Philippines, said that: “We are concerned about Ompong’s impact on lives and livelihoods, especially those within the eye of the storm. They will be urgently needing life-saving access to food, safe water, shelter, and sanitation facilities. The communities will need support during this time of great need. Oxfam and our partners are ready to support the government. We will prioritize addressing the needs of women and girls throughout the emergency response.”

The Philippine government reports that they have been taking a dual bottom-up and top-down approach to preparations, with the response escalating to higher levels of government as local capacities are exceeded. Felizco said, “We see the efforts of the local government units affected to coordinate with the national government. We look to their continued and sustained leadership. Oxfam will coordinate closely with the government and other responders to ensure the immediate needs of survivors are addressed effectively.”

Ompong is the 15th storm to hit the Philippines this year and, so far, the strongest for 2018. An average of 20 typhoons hit the country each year. “What we are also seeing now with extreme weather events like Ompong is that climate change is not a phenomenon that is far into the future. We need to take urgent action to ensure that communities most vulnerable to climate change impacts are able to adapt; and government plans and programs should be informed by an understanding of climate change,” Felizco said.

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For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:

Kelsey-Rae Taylor | Kelsey-Rae.Taylor@oxfam.org.nz | 021 298 5894

Donations to support Oxfam’s emergency responses around the world can be made online at oxfam.org.nz/drf or by calling 0800 600 700.