Emergency support in transit camps

Working with partners and civil society organizations in more than 90 countries, we responded to the needs of hundreds of thousands of refugees. At border crossings, in towns and cities, and temporary shelters and camps, we provided life-saving emergency support – treating people with dignity and respect – as any of us would wish if facing the same appalling circumstances.  

“They took our clothes and made us sit in the snow and ice – we were frozen. They broke our mobile phones and took our money, and beat us badly.” 

Maalik from Afghanistan, in Hungary

In Serbia, we assisted vulnerable migrants and asylum-seekers living outside and inside designated accommodation sites. Working in partnership with local organizations, we distributed basic essentials such as food and clothing, and provided legal counseling and support for people who had been pushed back across borders. Rather than being places of safety, countries of the Western Balkans left thousands of people facing an uncertain future, often subjecting them to violence and intimidation. In the first months of 2017, The Belgrade Centre for Human Rights, Macedonian Young Lawyers Association and Oxfam collaborated on a hard-hitting joint agency briefing paper – A Dangerous 'Game'– to draw attention to these illegal violations of human rights.

Ali Abbas, 46, from Raqqa in Syria, fills a tank with water supplied by Oxfam at an informal settlement for Syrian refugees near the town of Baalbek in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, on January 26, 2016. Ali lives at the camp and is responsible for distributing water trucked by Oxfam. Sam Tarling/Oxfam

With the support of local partner organizations, we also worked in 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 Bekaa Valley.

“I’ve been here for three years. I have four children; two of them were born here in the camp. I left everything in Raqqa, my life, my memories, my souvenirs. The most difficult time here in the Bekaa is the winter. It’s very cold and wet and we’re not used to living in tents.”

Hannan, 20, Syrian refugee in Lebanon

In Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon, we continued to help more than 2 million people with life-saving clean water, washing and toilet facilities. In Jordan and Lebanon, we supported refugees with clean drinking water and cash donations to buy food and other basic essentials, installed piped water schemes, and helped families to understand their legal and human rights, and access improved work opportunities, medical, legal and other support services. We built shower and toilet blocks in refugee camps, informal settlements along routes used by people fleeing Syria and installed or repaired toilets in communities hosting refugees. 

Fear of violence and intimidation forced over 110,000 refugees, mostly women and children, to flee their homes Burundi to neighboring Tanzania. They were in urgent need of clean water, adequate sanitation, health care, food and shelter. As 70,000 people arrived at Kagunga beach on the border, they were transported in buses to Nyarugusu camp, Oxfam worked with a local partner, Tanzania Water and Environmental Sanitation (TWESA), to provide clean water, shelter and food. "Nyarugusu camp is already the third largest refugee camp in the world, and Nduta is growing by the day, yet the situation for Burundians in Tanzania is struggling for attention and adequate funding," said Jane Foster, Oxfam’s Country Director. Cholera was confirmed in both locations, with over 200 cases in one camp, so educating people about how the steps they needed to take to be safe was critical.

Three years of brutal conflict in South Sudan had forced three million people from their homes, and 7.5 million people were in urgent need of help. We established seven humanitarian bases across South Sudan and ran life-saving activities in other locations as needs arose. In 2016 we helped more than 600,000 people providing food and water, sanitary latrines in camps and settlements, digging boreholes and wells and training people to look after and maintain their own water supply.

More than 1 million South Sudanese also fled to Uganda, thanks to a generous refugee policy by the country’s government. Bidibidi in Northern Uganda grew into the largest refugee settlement in the world - home to over 270,000 South Sudanese refugees. Our teams worked with a local partner, Community Empowerment for Rural Development (CEFORD), to provide clean drinking water to around 200,000 people and establish water systems that will last for 20 years - because we think people will remain here for decades. As more funding came through, Oxfam was able to also establish a gender and protection program for vulnerable groups, as well as recreational activities for children and young people.