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Biggest emergency aid effort in Oxfam’s history driven by refugee crisis

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The current global refugee crisis has prompted the biggest humanitarian response in Oxfam’s history, the international agency said today as it launched a new campaign calling on governments to do more to help those forced to flee their homes.

Oxfam provided humanitarian aid to almost 9 million people last year - the most in its history - the vast majority of whom were fleeing conflict and disaster. New figures due out next week are expected to show another increase in the number of refugees around the world. The number of people forced to flee their homes, both refugees and those displaced within their own countries, is already at its highest level since World War II. The conflict in Syria has been a major factor, but people are also fleeing violence in South Sudan, Nigeria, Burundi, Iraq and Yemen, amongst others.

Oxfam warns that governments have failed to adequately deal with the crisis, instead turning their backs on the suffering of millions of people and in some instances taking active measures to prevent refugees from reaching their borders.

In the last financial year Oxfam helped four times as many people as it did during the twin crises of the Indian Ocean tsunami and the Darfur conflict in 2005. Oxfam now works with more people forced from their homes, and local people hosting them, than ever before.

Oxfam’s new campaign, Stand As One, aims to put pressure on world leaders to welcome more refugees, to prevent families from being separated and to keep people fleeing their homes safe from harm.

Mark Goldring chief executive of Oxfam GB said:

“Millions of vulnerable women, men and children are fleeing their homes, risking their lives to reach a safe haven. Those lucky enough to survive often end up living in squalid conditions without enough clean water or food and face hostility, discrimination and abuse with too many governments doing little to help or protect them.

“The refugee crisis is one of the greatest challenges of our time. It is a complex crisis that requires a co-ordinated, global response.

“The UK government has been very generous in providing aid, but money alone will not solve this crisis. As the fifth richest economy in the world, the UK can and should do more to welcome refugees.”

Oxfam points out that the recent deal between European governments and Turkey which has left thousands of men, women and children detained in Greece in often appalling conditions, goes against the spirit of international law and sets a dangerous precedent. Announcing the closure of the Dadaab refugee camp, the Kenyan government said if Europe could turn away Syrians, then Kenya could do the same for Somalis.

Ahead of two major summits on the global refugee and migration crisis in New York in September, Oxfam launched a petition today, calling on governments not only to host more refugees but to commit to do more to help developing countries which are sheltering the majority of refugees.

From Hungarian refugees in Austria in 1956, to people fleeing the Rwanda genocide in 1994 to refugees arriving in Italy today, Oxfam has provided essential aid to millions fleeing conflict and disaster. Ends

For more information or interviews with Oxfam spokespeople contact: Jillian Moody: jmoody1@oxfam.org.uk 07557 077008 or
Sarah Grainger: sgrainger1@oxfam.org.uk 07810 181514

1.The petition calling on governments to find a global solution to tackle the refugee crisis is available at http://www.oxfam.org.uk/stand

2.In the financial year 2015-2016 Oxfam GB provided humanitarian aid to 8.9 million people. Other Oxfam affiliates have yet to report their figures for 2015-2016 but in the previous year provided humanitarian support to 2.1 million. In the financial year 2014-2015, Oxfam GB provided humanitarian aid to 8.1 million people.

3.For stories from refugees in countries including Greece, South Sudan and DRC: http://wordsandpictures.oxfam.org.uk/pages/search.php?search=!collection...

4.To donate to Oxfam’s refugee crisis appeal go to:
https://donate.oxfam.org.uk/emergency/refugeecrisis
Sarah Grainger
Senior Press Officer, Oxfam GB
Tel: +44 1865 472 089
Cell: +44 781 018 1514
Skype: sarah.grainger
Email: sgrainger1@oxfam.org.