Oxfam Media Advisory for the World Humanitarian Summit

May 20, 2016

The World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul is taking place in a world where 125 million people are affected by disaster and conflict. In 2014/15 Oxfam reached 12.9 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in over 50 emergencies.

The Summit brings together world leaders, international and local NGOs to make meaningful commitments to prevent or reduce humanitarian disasters before they happen. Oxfam’s paper released ahead of the Summit, “Commitment to Change” sets out Oxfam’s challenge to world leaders, alongside its own commitments to change.

Julie Lafrenière, Oxfam Canada’s Women’s Rights Policy & Advocacy Specialist, who will be attending the summit from Ottawa, said:

“The scale of people affected by crisis is bigger than the world is currently able to reach with humanitarian assistance. Families are trying to escape the unthinkable leaving everything behind to rebuild elsewhere. Too many are met by closed borders, hostility, discrimination and abuse. Women and girls are particularly at risk of violence, including sexual violence. Something needs to change..”

Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International, who will address government leaders at the summit, said:

“Leaders at the World Humanitarian Summit must make concrete commitments that deliver real change for civilians facing disaster and conflict. Fundamentally, we must see action from world leaders to reverse the shocking erosion of respect for International Humanitarian Law – this could be the Summit’s single most important legacy.”

For Oxfam, the greatest humanitarian challenge in 2016 is that warring parties around the world have, in effect, impunity to kill civilians without consequence; to violate International Humanitarian Law (IHL), including the 1949 Geneva Conventions and their Protocols, without substantial damage to their international contacts, their arms deals and their alliances.

Not since the Second World War have so many been forced from their homes: more than 60 million people – half of them children. Oxfam wants to see a new commitment from world leaders to the 1951 refugee convention and a promise never to undermine international law by bargaining away fundamental human rights.

The following Oxfam spokespeople will be in Istanbul are available for interview about Oxfam’s presence at the summit and about their key areas of expertise.

  • Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director, Oxfam International (local leadership, women and girls)
  • Julie Lafreniere, Women’s Rights Policy & Advocacy Specialist, Oxfam Canada (women and girls, gender equality) English/French
  •  Mark Goldring, CEO Oxfam GB (IHL/ protection and migration, humanitarian finance)
  • Charlotte Stemmer, Humanitarian Representative, Geneva, Oxfam International (expectations and processes at WHS)
  • Nigel Timmins, Humanitarian Director, Global Humanitarian Team, Oxfam International (resilience, local leadership, Oxfam humanitarian programmes)
  • Shannon Scribner, Humanitarian Policy Manager, Oxfam America – (local leadership)
  • Sally Chin, Head of Office, New York, Oxfam International (IHL, protection, ATT)
  • Paula San Pedro, Humanitarian Policy and Research, Oxfam Intermon, Spain (migration) Spanish
  • Carlos E Mejia, Humanitarian Change Goal Manager, Oxfam America (local leadership) Spanish
  • Helle Gudmandsen, Head of campaign – Education for All, IBIS, Denmark (education) Danish
  • Meryem Aslan, Oxfam Country Director, Turkey (women and girls, migration) Turkish

Mini-summits (photographs and video content to be made available)

Oxfam believes that people most affected by crises should be calling the shots and we will be bringing the World Humanitarian Summit to a number of refugee camps to create a conversation between those attending in Istanbul, the people we support and local NGOs working in those camps. With just a laptop and a mobile phone, Oxfam will be connecting the WHS to camps in Western Sahara and in Nyarugusu camp, Tanzania. The people there will then be able to hear the discussions taking place, and will be tweeting their questions and comments to the WHS. This will act as a reminder that these are the people who stand to benefit from the commitments which will be made in Istanbul. Oxfam and OCHA are also holding a mini-summit in the Lake Chad Basin to highlight the complex balance between providing adequate and protective humanitarian relief and addressing the root causes of the crisis.

Local Humanitarian NGOs
Oxfam calls for the increased involvement of local organisations in humanitarian crises and is supporting 5 of its local partners to attend the summit – all of whom are available for interview:

Ms. Halimatou Coulibaly, President Zeyna Women Association, Mali

Ms Halimatou Coulibaly came from a career in the Malian administration as secretary of Department, Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Finance ( regional Directorate of Budget Gao Region) when she became involved in a number of NGOs focused on promoting women’s rights and empowerment. Currently she is president of the Zeyna association working in the framework of the promotion and empowerment the woman through including agro-processing activities funded by international partners and supported by the technical services of the state. Continued on the social security crisis and political occurrence in northern Mali including in the Gao region, the organization she heads has actively participated in the humanitarian response for survivors of violence based on gender and women / girls risk of sexual exploitation with the support of OXFAM. Under her leadership the Zeyna association has already trained more than 260 vulnerable women and girls on the management of income-generating activities and monitors the implementation of their activities.

Mr. Esteban Bong Masagca from People’s Disaster Risk Reduction Network (PDRRN), Philippines  

Esteban Masagca is a trainer, speaker and facilitator on Disaster Risk Reduction Management for communities, networks and LGUs specifically on planning. His strong advocacy for people’s centred development oriented approach is deeply rooted in his humble beginnings of working with poor commnunities. He was the Sectoral Representative of the Victims of Disasters and Calamities (VDC) Sector of the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) from 2005-2010, and one of the frontrunners from the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) that pushed for the passage of RA 10121 or the Philippines Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010.  He was a member of the Philippines Official Delegation to the 3rd World Conference on DRR in Sendai, Japan  on March 2015, and also participated in the Global Forum for Improving Humanitarian Action held in New York last June 2015.
PDRRN, formerly the Pampanga Disaster Response Network, Inc. has been engaged in disaster response, rehabilitation and preparedness programs since 1991. It is an institution working on Community Based Disaster Risk Reduction in partnership with vulnerable groups, people’s organizations, local government government units, government agencies, faith based organizations and other civil society organizations towards building the capacity of communities to effectively protect them from harm.

Dr Rouba Mhaissen, founder & director, Sawa, Lebanon  

Rouba is an economist, activist and development practitioner, who works on development issues in the MENA region, particularly forced migration and the Syrian refugee crisis. She is the founder and director of Sawa Foundation (UK), and Sawa for Development and Aid (Lebanon), both CSO working with Syrian refugees on an integrated approach to development. Rouba holds a PhD in Gender and Economic Development from SOAS, and a masters in International Development from LSE, University of London. She has researched issues pertaining to education, violence, conflict, gender, forced migration, and activism, among other.

At the end of the year 2011, the youth initiative Sawa4Syria was founded as a reaction to the dire gap in fulfilling the needs of Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Sawa was among the first initiatives on the ground, encompassing a big number of students, individuals, professionals, academics, and business men, Syrian, Lebanese, and of diverse nationalities and multiple backgrounds, united by a common aim: that humanitarian relief and development is a matter of social justice, and to raise the living standards of Syrian refugees particularly, and the families in need from all nationalities more generally, to the basic standards of a dignified life.

Ms Seng Raw Lapai, Metta Development Foundation, Founder, Myanmar
Daw Lahpai Seng Raw is the founder of Metta Development Foundation, Myanmar’s largest NGO which runs healthcare, agriculture and peace projects. A 64 year old widow and member of the Kachin ethnic minority, Daw Seng Raw is at the forefront in facing challenges in Myanmar that included decades of ethnic strife and military dictatorship. In 1987, she started to work with the internally displaced people from Myanmar-China border. Moving to Bangkok in 1990 she became the development officer-in-charge in Kachin Independence Organization’s humanitarian wing (ROKA). She started the Metta Development Foundation in 1997, In July 2103, she was awarded a Ramon Magsaysay Award.

More than forty years of internal conflicts have had a devastating impact on the peoples of Myanmar. Many communities suffered displacement, loss of life, property and livelihood. A new era of challenge in the country’s troubled history was ushered in when ceasefire agreements were reached between the government and the majority of armed ethnic groups. This backdrop of peace means that it is now possible to reach out to communities in strife torn areas and initiate a development process that would help them evolve into stable, self-reliant societies within the Union.

Dr Antelak Al-Mutawakel, Co-Founder Youth Leadership Development Foundation, Yemen
Antelak Al-Mutawakek brings more than 20 years experience in working in Education, Youth and Gender in private, public and governmental sectors. In the private sector she is a co-founder one of the early kindergarten in Yemen (Ahlam Al’Asafeer & Leaders School). She has great interest in civil society and played several roles in the growth of Yemeni civil society particularly those working in education, youth and gender aiming to make positive change in society. She is  a co-founder of several civil society coalitions and Networks such as Waten and Shima.

For more information please contact Attila Kulcsar at   +44 7471 142974.

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