Oxfam Canada welcomes federal Crisis Relief Fund for Rohingya refugees

More than a million people now in urgent need of life-saving assistance in fastest-growing refugee crisis in the world

October 31, 2017

(Ottawa) Oxfam Canada welcomes the Government of Canada’s announcement that for every eligible donation made by individuals to registered Canadian charities until November 28, 2017, it will contribute an equivalent amount to the Myanmar Crisis Relief Fund. That means every dollar will have double the impact.

"Canada’s leadership comes at a critical time, with the concentration of refugees in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh now among the densest in the world,” said Julie Delahanty, Executive Director of Oxfam Canada. “The situation is dire and getting worse with each passing day. We are especially concerned about the scores of women and girls whose needs are not being met in the overcrowded camps.”

Two months into the crisis, more than 603,000 Rohingya refugees have crossed into southern Bangladesh, while thousands are still trapped at the border. Among them are more than 120,000 pregnant women and mothers with new babies struggling to survive.

Laila*, an 18-year-old pregnant mother of two, doesn’t know if her husband is dead or alive. He went missing as they fled the terrifying violence back home. She and her children spent their first night across the border in an open field next to a graveyard.

“There are lots of problems: no water, no place to go to the bathroom. There is no place to take a shower. We dig holes to get water and use it to cook. It is dirty. People go to the toilet here, but we can’t live without water so we are drinking it,” Laila said.

“The situation is dire and getting worse with each passing day. We are especially concerned about the scores of women and girls whose needs are not being met in the overcrowded camps.”
Julie Delahanty, Executive Director, Oxfam Canada

More than 70 per cent of the newly arrived have no shelter, and only half have access to safe drinking water. Aid organizations are in a race against time to deliver life-saving assistance and curb the spread of disease. The Humanitarian Coalition – which brings together seven leading Canadian humanitarian agencies including Oxfam Canada – has launched a joint emergency campaign to raise funds for clean drinking water, sanitation, hygiene, emergency food and supplies.

Refugees are also in need of mental health and psychosocial support. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, men in army uniforms raped women and girls as young as five years old as they fled. Survivors of sexual violence and trauma now require specialized services such as clinical management of rape and surgical intervention.

“The donations of individual Canadians, no matter how small, will help us save lives,” Delahanty said. “The need is overwhelming and the time to act is now.”

Oxfam has already reached 185,000 people with clean drinking water, food rations, portable toilets, hygiene kits, plastic sheets, and other essential supplies. In total, we are planning to reach more than 200,000 people.

*name has been changed to protect identity


Notes to Editors: 

Of the total refugees: 53 per cent of the population is female; 29 per cent are children under the age of five; 29 per cent are between ages 6-18; 15 per cent are adolescent girls.

The Humanitarian Coalition is Canada’s only joint appeal response for international disasters and emergencies. It is comprised of seven leading humanitarian agencies: Canadian Lutheran World Relief, CARE Canada, Islamic Relief Canada, Oxfam Canada, Oxfam-Québec, Plan International Canada, and Save the Children Canada. Collectively, they are present in 150 countries. Together, we save more lives. www.together.ca


Contact information

Shirlee Engel
Media Relations
Oxfam Canada
(613) 240-3047