In a world choked by violence, conflict, and disaster, more people are now displaced than at any time in recorded history.
Sixty-five million people have fled their homes seeking safety wherever they can find it—in neighboring communities, nearby countries, and often on new continents. Among them are more than 20 million refugees many of whom are desperate to escape fighting in places like Syria, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. And topping their ranks are children who, in 2015, made up 51 percent of all global refugees.
But these are not just a series of appalling numbers. They are individuals who have endured loss and hardship, yet who speak of hope and return. They give voice to a reality few of us can imagine. Oxfam works with them every step of the way—helping to meet their emergency needs while pushing for solutions to the crises that displaced them and defending their rights to live with security and dignity.
Many people flee with nothing, escaping only with their lives and the clothes they are wearing.
Though some have savings, those resources are quickly depleted when families are on the run. For all, the journey to safety and a measure of stability is long, arduous, and frequently heartbreaking. 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.
“The help that Oxfam has provided us has improved our security,” said Nada Al Musari, who fled the civil war in Syria in search of safety for her family in Jordan. Her oldest son, 25, was shot by a sniper—a fate suffered by many civilians—and suffered nerve damage in his back. The injury left him needing to rely on crutches and struggling to walk. Daily survival has been a challenge for the family, but emergency cash assistance from Oxfam helped cover some of the cost for her son’s medical treatment. “Without this help we would be on the street,” Al Musari said.
A global crisis
Oxfam works with local partners in more than 90 countries. In many cases we are providing support not only to families who have been displaced but to those struggling to make a better life for themselves in their own communities. Some countries have grave humanitarian needs. Among the ones in which we work are:
Three years of fighting in central and northern Iraq along with economic stagnation—beginning in 2014—have left more than 10 million people in desperate need of food, shelter, medicine, and water. As of March 2017, nearly three million people have been driven out of their homes, with children accounting for half of all displaced people. We are providing lifesaving assistance to those affected. Learn more >
Humanitarian needs in Somalia are escalating as a result of recurring drought and decades of conflict. From September 2015 to February 2017, the number of people in need of assistance has risen from five million to 6.2 million, which amounts to more than half of the country’s population. Almost one million children are suffering from acute malnutrition. We are providing immediate life-saving aid and long-term development assistance to prevent vulnerable people from sliding back into crisis. Learn more >
In conflict-wracked South Sudan, economic decline, disease, and climate change have contributed to more than three million people fleeing their homes. Kids aren’t able to attend school and many are being recruited by armed groups or have become victims of the fighting. Inflation rates as high as 800 percent a year mean that families are struggling to afford even the basics, such as food. We are providing emergency food distributions, clean water, and longer-term support while also calling for an end to violence. Learn more >
Six years of fighting have devastated Syria, a thriving, middle-income country prior to the start of conflict in 2011. Close to half a million people have been killed, 11 million people have abandoned their homes, and millions more are in desperate need of help. We are providing lifesaving aid to those displaced in the Middle East, and we’re helping families meet some of their basic needs as they travel beyond the region to seek safety. Learn more >
As of March 2017, harsh war in Yemen has pushed more than seven million people to the brink of famine and an additional 10 million people are severely hungry. Millions are displaced and public services are becoming drained. Growing civil insecurity is straining humanitarian assistance efforts and disrupting food imports. We are providing families with desperately needed food, clean drinking water, and sanitation services. Learn more >
With the support of local partner organizations, we also work in both organized official camps with tens of thousands of refugees—like Zaatari in Jordan or Nyarugusu in Tanzania—and informal communities and small tent settlements, like those in Lebanon’s Bekka Valley.
Key among our concerns for displaced people is clean water—essential for ensuring good health, especially in crowded temporary conditions. We drill wells, install storage tanks, set up tap stands, and distribute jerry cans so families can collect and store adequate supplies of clean water. We also provide sanitation services--such as the construction of latrines—and rigorously promote good hygiene to help prevent the spread of deadly waterborne diseases.
Our support can also include cash and relief supplies, such as blankets and stoves in winter and vouchers for hygiene supplies in summer. Sometimes, we help displaced families meet part of their rent, ensuring they have a roof over their heads. In other cases, we help them get the information they need about their rights and connect them to special services such as legal aid.
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.
Enlisting the support of activists—many of them just like you—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 resettle. At the heart of all our advocacy work is everything those families have taught us about human endurance, resilience, and dignity. These are the lessons, grounded in undeniable truths, that we share widely and often.