According to aid agency Oxfam, the wealthiest one per cent of the UK population own as much as 20 times the wealth of the poorest 20 per cent. This statistic makes the UK one of the most unequal countries in the western world and may be a major reason behind the Brexit vote Oxfam said. The data suggests that just 634,000 UK citizens were worth more than twenty times as the poorest 13 million and in response Oxfam is calling on Prime Minister Theresa May to undertake policy which will narrow the gap between those who have and those who have not.
Inequality is astonishing
Oxfam’s report looked at data which came from the investment bank Credit Suisse and found the richest 10 per cent of UK citizens owned more than half of the country’s wealth. More astonishing was the fact that the top 1 per cent owned a staggering 23 per cent of the country’s wealth. In contrast the poorest 20 per cent own just 0.8 per cent of the UK’s wealth between them. The reports claims that vast swathes of the population felt they had no access to economic opportunity.
“Whatever your views on Brexit, the referendum brought divisions within our country to a head, with many people expressing distrust and disconnection with political processes and voting for change in the hope that it would improve their economic position,” Oxfam said.
Oxfam has welcomed the fact that Mrs. May has chosen to recognise the requirement to reform corporate culture and has suggested a number of measures that Oxfam believes the government should adopt. These include:
- Ensuring that workers are given more representation on company boards.
- Providing incentives to firms that encourage them to improve worker skill sets through training and education.
- Introduce a pay ratio of no more than 20 to 1. This would mean the highest paid person at a company earns no more than 20 times the income of the lowest paid person at the company.
- Dealing with corporate tax avoidance.
Oxfam’s Rachel Orr said that inequality is a massive obstacle in the fight against poverty and has produced an economy in which not all people can benefit. Whilst executive pay continues to rise, one in five are still living beneath the poverty line and are struggling to put food on the table and pay their bills. One way to tackle this is to end unscrupulous practices which means the government needs to reform the economy.
“That means closing wage gaps, incentivising investment in companies’ staff and making sure they pay their fair share of taxes,” Ms Orr said.
A spokesperson from Downing Street says the government is responding and made changes such as introducing the National Living Wage as well as undertaking reforms of the welfare system. The spokesperson did admit however, that that much more needs to be done both to help the poorest in the country as well as those families struggling to make ends meet.
According to the latest numbers, since the tragic drowning of three-year-old Alan Kurdi, refugee and migrant deaths have increased by more than 20 per cent. More than 5700 people have died on migrant routes globally in the last year. This despite the fact there was an international outcry when Alan’s body was found washed up on a beach following an attempt by his Syrian family to cross to Europe from Turkey. In the previous year before he died, there were 4664 recorded deaths said Oxfam which is running a crisis appeal for refugees.
General awareness is growing
Research conducted by Virtual Social Media Lab found that following the death of Alan, there was intense interest worldwide on the issue. In fact, there were four times as many tweets on the subject in the year following Alan’s death. Recent images of Omran Daqneesh who was pictured being pulled from the rubble covered in blood and dust in Aleppo also had a similar effect. Oxfam says this shows that the general public have some intense feelings about the violence which is forcing the refugees to flee.
Oxfam added: “Two major summits on the global refugee and migration crisis take place in New York later this month. The preliminary negotiations have been very disappointing, with many countries unwilling to do more to help, but the summits still offer the opportunity for governments to make firm commitments to improve the situation.”
Take in more refugees
Oxfam is urging the UK government to take in more refugees. Mark Goldring Oxfam chief executive said that the images which depict Alan Kurdi’s body washing up on shore were truly heart-breaking, and it was completely right for the images to induce shock and sadness amongst the general public. However, in the year since the incident took place, the situation for refugees and migrants has not improved, despite the fact they are risking everything for a better life, the routes have actually become even more deadly.
“To stop these needless deaths, we need a coordinated, global response to this crisis. The UK government has an opportunity to show it is part of the solution at the summits in New York later this month.” Mr. Goldring said.
A new report from Oxfam suggests that the six richest countries on the planet take less than one in eleven of the world’s refugees. The report shows that the US, Japan, Germany, France, Britain and China whom put together account for over half the global economy accept less than nine per cent of refugees. Whilst it is true that Germany has accepted far more refugees than the other rich countries, there is still a huge gap with poorer countries shouldering most of the responsibility.
Poor countries shouldering most of the responsibility
The study claims that the six richest countries have accommodated 2.1 million asylum seekers and refugees. That is less than 9 per cent of the global total. The UK has taken in 169,000 refugees and asylum seekers which is less than 1 per cent of the world’s total. To put that into context, Turkey, Jordan, the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Lebanon and Pakistan between them have accommodated over half the world’s refugees despite the fact that their economies combined make up less than 2 per cent of the global economy.
Millions fleeing violence and conflict
As many as 65 million people have had to flee as a result of violence and conflict. 40.8 million have relocated within their own countries and 21.3 million are refugees. There are 3.2 million people awaiting asylum decisions. Those numbers are the highest on record. Whilst the civil war in Syria is a major source of refugees, people are also being forced to flee conflicts taking place in South Sudan, Burundi, Yemen and Iraq. Oxfam has been preparing for two major summits on the migration crisis and is urging governments to accommodate more refuges and do more to help poor countries that are shouldering most of the responsibility
“Many governments are turning their backs on the suffering of millions of vulnerable people who have fled their homes and shirking their duty to protect them. Thousands are risking their lives to reach a safe haven. Those lucky enough to survive often end up living in squalid conditions without enough clean water or food and face hostility, discrimination and abuse with too many governments doing little to help or protect them.” Mark Goldring, chief executive of Oxfam GB, said.
Rich countries need to do their bit
Mr. Goldring adds that the migration crisis is complex and requires a coordinated global response. This means that the wealthier nations need to do their fair share and should host more refugees and make sure they are protected no matter who they are. He went on to say that the UK must show that it is both tolerant and open and will play its part in solving the crisis.
“It is shameful that as one of the richest economies the UK has provided shelter for less than one per cent of refugees.”
At present Oxfam is participating in more than 1000 projects globally. This is made possible only through the donations made by the general public. The key question that is often asked is whether Oxfam is actually making a difference and the organisation takes that question very seriously. Oxfam is constantly examining whether its work is really transforming lives. Oxfam is continuously looking to learn and improve so that it can have the biggest possible impact.
Evaluation is critical
Evaluating and monitoring of the work it does is critical to Oxfam. It enables the agency to understand what is working and where it can make improvements. It allows Oxfam the ability to share its knowledge and make more effective plans. It also ensures that Oxfam is accountable to everyone that is a stake holder including the general public who makes its work possible. Above all else, the evaluation of the work it does allows Oxfam to maximise the number of people it is helping as it seeks to achieve genuine and long lasting change.
Constantly looking in the mirror
Every year, Oxfam undertakes and publishes several impact evaluations. What the agency learns from them shapes its future projects. There is no single method that has the ability to asses all of Oxfam’s work. For example, the way a humanitarian response is evaluated is quite different from the way Oxfam’s work with farmers is assessed. This means Oxfam uses a number of evaluation tools that are specific to certain situations.
Learning from experience
For example, in Uganda Oxfam recently measured how effective it was in setting up a project that is designed to empower women to run their own small business and increase their income. The agency undertook a survey and collected data. That information was used to measure how women who benefitted from the project were more empowered compared to women who did not participate in the project. The results clearly showed the women that Oxfam worked with were better able to contribute to household income because they had better access to business loans.
Work made possible by the general public
Much more work needs to be done in order to improve women’s power to participate in big decisions at home and their control over household goods. Oxfam has learned from that example so that in future projects it will seek to help women ensure they are also heard at home as well. This is just a single example of how Oxfam is constantly seeking to improve on the work it does. It also ensures the donations made by the general public.
Oxfam says that Britain and other rich countries should sharply increase the number of refugees from Syria they take in. The aid agency would like as many as 10 per cent of Syrians that have been displaced by war resettled before the year ends. Oxfam announced its talks in advance of UN talks scheduled to be held in Geneva which are meant to focus on the crisis. So far just 1.4 per cent of refugees have been helped so far.
UK target not good enough
The UK has a target of resettling 20,000 refugees from Syria by 2020 which Oxfam has said is simply not good enough. However, the British response has been to say that it is focusing on also providing aid to people living in the troubled region. The UK has pledged £2.3 billion in aid which is supposed to help the worst affected by the humanitarian crisis which has been caused by a five-year-old civil war in Syria. That would make the United Kingdom the world’s second largest bilateral donor after the United States.
Oxfam says that whilst no one can doubt the generosity of the British in providing financial aid to those that have been displaced by the civil war, the agency argues that the UK can and should do more. Oxfam says that rich countries should shoulder greater responsibility towards refuges than less wealthy nations such as Jordan and Lebanon where thousands of Syrians now live. The aid agency says that the conference in Geneva should produce “urgent solutions” for people trying to escape the violence.
Most vulnerable should be resettled
Oxfam took a close look at the pledges of 28 countries that are members of the OECD and signatories to the 1951 Convention on Refugees. According to Oxfam these countries have committed to take in nearly 130,000 refugees however so far only 67,000 have actually arrived. The 10 per cent target of Syrian refugees Oxfam would like rich countries to accommodate by the end of the year represents the proportion of refugees the UN says are the most vulnerable and in need of resettlement.
According to the analysis of data, Oxfam says that only Norway, Germany and Canada have made pledges to resettle refugees that exceed their fair share which is a measure based on the size of their economies. New Zealand Finland, Iceland, Sweden and Australia have pledged more than half their fair share whilst the UK is at 22 per cent and the US at just 7 per cent. Mark Golding Oxfam GB chief executive says that it was shocking that vulnerable people fleeing violence were not being provided a safe home.
In October the book world came together to try to raise £1 million for Oxfam’s Syria Crisis Appeal. From the start of October you will be able to purchase books written by some of the world’s best selling authors such as Salman Rushdie and Hillary Mantel from Waterstones. The books themselves have been donated by publishers and the full retail price will go to Oxfam as a donation.
Authors come out in strong support
Ian Rankin, author of the best selling Rebus books said it was wonderful to see the bookseller Waterstones combine with publishers and authors to raise cash to fund Oxfam’s work with refugees. The phrase buy a book and save a life never rang so true. Mark Haddon another author participating in the effort said he whole heartedly supports the Waterstones Buy Books for Syria campaign and made his comments whilst visiting the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan with Oxfam.
“With £1m our program could deliver clean water to another 150,000 people in Syria, or support to tens of thousands of people in Jordan over the next year. This help is urgently needed as the conflict in Syria shows no sign of ending.” Mark Goldring, CEO, Oxfam said.
You can help by buying a book to save a life
Waterstones put out the request for book donations and UK publishers and authors responded generously. You will be able to recognise the books that are participating in the drive because they will be stickered with ‘Buy Books for Syria’ and will be set up in special displays at all Waterstones shops.
The devastation in Nepal following the earthquake in Nepal which took place in April this year was huge. Oxfam was able to respond quickly and at scale because the agency had an earthquake contingency plan which made a massive difference. A team from Oxfam was dispatched to Nepal following the 7.8 magnitude earthquake which left 18,000 people injured, 8,000 dead and 2.8 million homeless.
Disaster risk reduction is vital
Oxfam was able to mitigate the worst of the earthquake by storing sanitation equipment and water at four different locations around Kathmandu. The aid agency had crates filled with water tanks, hygiene kits, buckets and emergency toilets. This meant Oxfam was able to immediately spring into action and establish facilities and distribute materials in the many camps that came up around the city in the aftermath of the earthquakes. Following a disaster water borne disease is often rife because people lack access to clean water. Being able to offer families basic hygiene such as purification tablets and water buckets can help to prevent this.
Responding quickly and at scale
Oxfam trained hundreds of volunteers who leapt into action delivering and constructing water and sanitation equipment both in the capital city as well as the outer districts. The network meant that Oxfam was able to quickly reach thousands of people and offer the basic humanitarian aid they were desperately in need of. Many of the volunteers still turned up to help despite being personally affected by the disaster.
Oxfam worked with many other agencies including the World Health Organisation to help make the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital in Kathmandu the most earthquake resilient in Nepal. Dr Pradeep Vaidya said hospital staff were able to treat the injured within 20 minutes of the first earthquake and explained how.
“Our staff were all fully trained as to how the hospital would operate in such an emergency. We had a disaster plan and everyone knew how the hospital would be divided up to treat casualties. We had containers onsite filled with extra emergency supplies and this was vital to ensure we could treat everybody. Oxfam installed an earthquake proof water borehole which meant if our water supply had been disrupted, we could still operate. Our supply wasn’t damaged, but this meant we didn’t need to take any of the emergency water being trucked and freed it up for other hospitals who did.”
Planning is crucial
It’s been five months since the earthquake and reconstruction and recovery continues. Oxfam continues to stress how important it is for the government with the assistance of donors construct local, district and national capacity for disaster risk reduction. Oxfam’s experience Nepal is a great example of the difference planning can make
Many families in Yemen have been affected by economic and humanitarian crisis and as a result Oxfam has been donating life stock to help rebuilt lives and improve income. Oxfam has donated sheep to a Suad who is a 70 year old sheep farmer which has not only helped her recover from the crisis but also enabled her to see again.
Suad who lives in Yemen’s western capital Hodeidah says she felt helpless after losing her sight nearly a year ago. She says prior to that she had always depended upon herself but once her livestock died she had to sell all her possessions to survive.
Suad became a sheep farmer at a young age like many others in her village and for many years she earned a decent living as a shepherd. Yemen was hit by both drought and financial crisis and both had dramatic effects on sheep herds.
Suad says droughts in the region are a common occurrence which usually result in food and fuel price rises. However the drought which occurred last year was a particular disaster for all the villagers with expensive fuel and lack of water which resulted in pasture drying up.
Many Yemeni’s have similar stories and are struggling to find enough food to eat and simply do not have the means to cope with disaster.
Oxfam in response has started a project to help people in similar situations to Suad. The project includes funding the gift of livestock and providing technical advice to people like Suad and has had a real impact on their lives. Now they can produce their own food and cope with drought in the future.
Suad made money selling offspring from her sheep and was able to obtain medical help to restore her eyesight. The doctor diagnosed her eyesight problem as cataract which is easily treatable through surgery.
Estimates suggest that nearly 4.5 million people have been affected by Typhoon Haiyan and the body count is now over 3000 people with many more feared dead.
The coming days and weeks are going to be crucial with hundreds of thousands of people without food, water or shelter. Some families are already drinking contaminated well water and this means the threat of malnutrition and disease is high. The need for emergency aid is huge and Oxfam is urging we all act now.
According to the latest estimates, nearly 4.5 million people from 36 provinces have been affected and over 10,000 people are feared dead since Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in the Philippines on Friday 8 November.
Donate to Oxfam Phillipines appeal now
Oxfam has an experience team on the ground in the Philippines and is working with local partners who will be joined by emergency experts that have flown in from around the world.
everely hampered and this makes getting to the most remote areas extremely challenging. Oxfam’s team is doing its best to reach the worst hit areas and begin a response.
With help from your donations, Oxfam will provide clean drinking water, sanitation and shelter to half a million people that have been affected by the typhoon. The aid agency says it will provide plastic sheeting and tents which should provide basic protection from the elements as well as distributing household water filters which can purify dirty flood water making it safe for washing and cooking. Oxfam also plans to install pop up toilet facilities which are quick and easy to erect.
Oxfam has begun to send out urgently needed supplies to the Philippines from its UK warehouse including sanitation equipment, soap, hygiene kits and water. Please donate something today to help support the effort.
Oxfam is saying there is an alarmingly steep increase in the number of people feeling the civil war in Syria and moving to camps across the border. The estimate does not include the thousands that are arriving at border communities which are finding it hard to cope. It is estimated that as many as 4 million people have been displaced within the country and Oxfam says this is a huge long term crisis.
Oxfam has raised the Syria Crisis to a Category 1 emergency which is not meant to be merely a media sound bite. Instead it means that Oxfam’s humanitarian teams who have decades of experience between them dealing with all kinds of complex emergencies has put the scale of human suffering in Syria at the very highest level.
Oxfam does not escalate crisis response lightly and to get a sense of just what a Category 1 crisis means, the Asian Tsunami which occurred in December 2004 was one of the few other crisis this decade that was a Category 1 emergency.
Other Category 1 crisis are just as important but many tend to be easily overlooked because their causes are complex and their consequences take place over a long period of time making it almost impossible to capture at a single moment.
In the absence of iconic images which define the plight of refugees in the Middle East, UN data goes a long way to illustrating the gravity of the situation in around Syria.
At Oxfam its all hands on deck over the coming months and if you can help, please donate to the Syria Crisis Appeal