A devastating fire on March 22 in Rohingya refugee camps left thousands displaced and hundreds injured. Displaced families have established makeshift shelters in the midst of the charred rubble.

Mutasim Billah / Oxfam

Refugee and immigrant rights

More people are fleeing their homes for better security than ever before. We must open our hearts, minds, and communities to seeking dignity and safety.

Every single day, families around the world are forced to leave their homes in search of safety and a better life. According to the UN, one percent of the world’s population have fled their homes. Escaping conflict and violence, poverty and persecution, many people leave with nothing but the clothes they are wearing. Often, people who are seeking refuge elsewhere are met with public policies that put their families in harm’s way.

The US must respond to this growing crisis on all fronts–by funding programs that provide life-saving assistance to displaced people worldwide, rebuilding the broken asylum system, offering resettlement in the United States to the most vulnerable, and increasing diplomatic efforts to prevent the conflicts and human rights abuses that force people to flee in the first place.

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The global displacement crisis

While displacement is not a new phenomenon, the scale of the current crisis is unprecedented. Right now, there are nearly 80 million people in the world who have been forcibly displaced. Among them are nearly 26 million refugees, around half of whom are under the age of 18. We are dealing with the highest number of forcibly displaced people since World War II, and the root causes are stark: conflict, violence, climate change, poverty, and food insecurity.

Refugees and migrants are ordinary people who have been forced to cross boundaries and borders in search of safety for their families. Included in the world’s growing displaced population are people who have been driven to seek refuge from long-term conflicts that show no signs of abating, such as in Syria and South Sudan. The number of asylum seekers fleeing Central America and seeking protection at the US southern border is surging due to gang-related and gender-based violence, impunity and corruption, and food insecurity exacerbated by climate change.

Oxfam's response

Around the world, Oxfam strives not only to help displaced people with their immediate basic needs for clean water, shelter, food, and work, but to advocate for their long-term wellbeing, both in their own nations and in the countries which host them. While we help people with their immediate needs, we also engage with allies and all levels of government to focus on peace and find sustainable solutions to the conflict and violence that ruin so many lives. We push for wealthy countries to be more responsive to this global crisis and do their fair share by responding to the needs of refugees and welcoming them for resettlement. And we advocate for public policies that will protect the rights of displaced families as they strive to rebuild their lives and guarantee their children a better future—in their own countries or the ones in which they settle.

Oxfam’s local partner Coast Trust helps pack and unload food kits for Rohingya refugees at Oxfam’s warehouse in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Food distribution is one way Oxfam supports refugees in countries around the world. Photo: Tommy Trenchard/Oxfam

Tackling drivers of migration

Oxfam partners with local organizations to address the reasons people are forced to leave their homes. These community-based solutions and campaigns tackle sexual and gender-based violence, invest in sustainable development, fight corruption and impunity, increase access to justice, and call for peace. When we are successful, families are able to stay in their homes and communities.

Humanitarian aid

Millions of people on the move struggle to find clean water, shelter, food, and work. As the number of Central American families fleeing to the US in search of safety began to surge in 2018, we provided lifesaving assistance at camps and shelters along their journey and supported employment opportunities. Oxfam is supporting organizations at the border who defend the legal rights of those seeking protection. When necessary, we have responded along the caravan routes in Guatemala and Mexico with humanitarian aid, including distribution of hygiene kits, food packages, and water, and installation of portable toilets, showers, and drinking water points for thousands in need.

Advocacy & campaigning

Oxfam advocates for policies that protect the world’s most vulnerable. We have taken to the courts to defend to defend the right of people to claim asylum at the US-Mexico border, and are demanding the US put an end to anti-refugee and anti-immigrant policies and fix its broken asylum system.


Oxfam has been working in Central America for more than three decades to combat violence and challenge inequality–the real reasons people flee their homes in the first place. We support those struggling with economic hardship, we provide women with the skills to break out of domestic violence situations, we support farmers to combat food insecurity, and we advocate for governments (including the US) to implement just fiscal policies.

In the US, we have established grants and partnerships with worker organizations that directly represent migrants. These partnerships seek to empower those impacted workers, build their capacity to self-organize, and use our networks to amplify their voice.

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