Bringing relief to refugees

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Abdulhadi and Reem Hamandy proudly present their 10-day-old daughter Nur. They moved to Türkiye to escape conflict in Syria but lost their home in the February earthquakes. Photo: Tineke D'haese/Oxfam

This World Refugee Day, we’re highlighting three remarkable people who fled their homes in search of safety and the ways in which Oxfam is working with their communities to help them achieve it.

June 20 marks World Refugee Day, a day that was designated by the United Nations (UN) to honor the experiences of people who have fled their homes in search of safety from conflict, persecution, or to escape poverty and hunger. This day reminds us that we must continue to champion refugees and other displaced people to help them realize their rights to safety, provide lifesaving assistance, and advocate for solutions to address the issues that sent them on the move in the first place.

Often, when people make the decision to leave home, they are looking for refuge wherever they can. They might find that elsewhere in their home country, staying with relatives, in a camp for internally displaced peoples (IDPs), or they may have to cross borders or apply for asylum.

In mid-2022, the UN Refugee Agency estimated that the number of people who were forcibly displaced globally had reached 103 million. Of that number, 32.5 million people have refugee status, 4.9 million are asylum seekers, and more than 53.2 million people are internally displaced.

In the last few years, the numbers of displaced people have only increased, and with war in Ukraine, the earthquake in Türkiye and Syria, and food crises in South Sudan, we are seeing more people on the move than ever before. Oxfam works within refugee and IDP communities, often hand-in-hand with refugee-led organizations, to provide aid in emergencies such as these to help people regain security.

This World Refugee Day, we want to take you beyond the numbers, to spotlight the courageous people we work with. Here are just a handful of the inspiring individuals we met in our work.

Julia James

South Sudanese refugee residing in Gambella, Ethiopia

Julia James provides essential services at Nguenyyiel refugee camp in Ethiopia. Photo: Dagmawi Tedesse/Oxfam

Julia James is a volunteer public health promoter Oxfam works with in Ethiopia's Nguenyyiel refugee camp. She has been living there since she fled conflict in South Sudan in 2017 and also serves as a water point coordinator and a member of a water committee.

In the Gambella region of Ethiopia, there are approximately 374,864 refugees from South Sudan in seven camps. Nearly 90 percent of these refugees are women and children; 63 percent are below the age of 18. Oxfam has been responding to the refugee crisis in the region since 2014 and became the lead agency for water, sanitation, and hygiene services in the seven refugee camps and host communities there in January 2022.

We work closely with refugees in Gambella, like Julia, to coordinate essential services like water and sanitation. Learn more about Oxfam’s work in Gambella.

Abdulhadi and Reem

Syrian refugees displaced from their home in Antakaya, Türkiye, by earthquakes

Abdulhadi and Reem Hamandy proudly present their 10-day-old daughter Nur. They moved to Türkiye to escape conflict in Syria but lost their home in the February earthquakes. Photo: Tineke D'haese/Oxfam

We met Abdulhadi and Reem Hamandy in the aftermath of the earthquakes that hit Türkiye and Syria in February. They were displaced from their home in Anktaya, Türkiye, and were discouraged to find themselves homeless again. Eleven years prior, they had fled the war in Syria and settled in Anktaya, where they had built a nice life for themselves. After a few nights of sleeping outside in the cold, they were able to hunker down in a makeshift tent with their 3-year-old, a newborn baby, and a handful of other family members.

Across Türkiye and Syria, more than 18 million people were affected by the earthquakes. Oxfam is working with partners in both countries to reach nearly two million people with emergency aid and support to help people get back on their feet. By mid-April, Oxfam KEDV, Oxfam’s affiliate in Türkiye, had reached 24,000 people. In addition to providing clean water and hygiene kits, we have also been providing food—initially by distributing cooked meals and food kits, and then cash vouchers once people can access shops.

Learn more about Oxfam’s work in Türkiye.


Syrian refugee living in Za’atari refugee camp, Jordan

Hamda at a recycling center in Za’atari camp, Jordan. Photo: Monther Abutarha/Oxfam

In 2014, Hamda fled conflict in Syria, carrying her infant through sandstorms and shelling to finally arrive in Jordan's Za’atari refugee camp. There, she reunited with her parents and set about establishing a new life in what they imagined would be a temporary home.

Now 31, Hamda is attending online classes to earn a bachelor’s degree in business administration. She also serves as a team leader in an Oxfam waste recycling project run by residents of Za’atari; Oxfam is one of the largest employers of Syrian refugees in the camp, operating recycling centers to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills, keep the environment clean, and help reduce greenhouse gases. Her 9-year-old son attends school in the camp and aspires to become an architect. Hamda is one of more than 10,000 refugees who benefited from Oxfam’s temporary income opportunities during the past three years.

Read more about Hamda.

This year, World Refugee Day focuses on the power of inclusion and solutions for refugees. Oxfam strives to find solutions for displaced people, not just by meeting immediate 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. By supporting Oxfam’s work, you are helping make a tangible difference in the lives of those who have lost everything. Together, we can create a more equal future.

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