A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
Award winning photographer Alixandra Fazzina has recently travelled to some of the worst hit areas in Pakistan where she saw first hand the devastation caused by the floods. She photographed a family in Pakistan as well as a Pakistani family in the UK to document how they were spending the holy month of Ramadan.
With more than 21 million people affected by the recent surge of floods and countless people displaced, people already hungry have been fasting from sunrise to sunset in extremely difficult conditions.
Alixandra has recently been awarded the prestigious Nansen Refugee award by the United Nations high commissioner on refugees.
"As a photojournalist based in Pakistan I have been documenting the floods and the devastating affect they have had on the population for the past five weeks. Millions have not only been displaced but are now homeless, having lost everything in the deluge. The scale of this disaster and the suffering those affected endure is huge making the magnitude of this environmental catastrophe one of the hardest and most heart breaking I have documented.
"While mainstream media reports on the continuing displacement on a day to day basis, I have turned my attention to individual families in a bid to reveal individual tales that put a human face on the tragedy. This is a protracted disaster and the people of Pakistan desperately need help not only now but over the months to come. It is important for people to remember that there are millions of individual lives now in ruins; their futures are bleak and they see very little hope", said Alixandra.
Alixandra visited the Layyah district in Punjab, where villages have been completely submerged in water. She visited a family that were taking refuge in a school with many others in often cramped conditions. Oxfam has been supporting people in this district with clean water, hygiene kits and sanitation. Food distributions were also taking place and many would come together in the evenings to break their fasts.
With Ramadan a key time for Muslims to give an obligatory amount of money towards charity, there has been a huge outpouring of support from the British Muslim community as well as the UK public.
Alixandra photographed a Pakistani family in the UK to highlight their thoughts and reflections as the crisis in Pakistan continued. Many families in the UK have been following the situation very closely as loved ones have been caught up in the floods.
“We have been watching the floods unfold on our TV sets and are extremely concerned about the people in Pakistan. We were fortunate that our relatives there managed to escape the devastation, but unfortunately many could not. We would urge as many people to continue giving as much as they can to help the situation”, said Inam Ullah Khan.
Inam's daughter Tamreez felt compelled to go to Pakistan to help.
“Last year I had volunteered in Pakistan with MADE in Europe, to provide clean water to camps for internally displaced people following the conflict in Northern Pakistan. After the floods, I was again given an opportunity with MADE in Europe to help those in Pakistan but due to work and family commitments in the UK, was unable to go. I know many friends who are and they are doing a fantastic job,” said Tamreez.
As Ramadan draws to a close, international agency Oxfam is asking for the international community to raise the money needed to help rebuild the country after this devastating crisis.
“We have seen families struggle in some of the most difficult circumstances during the holy month of fasting - this has been one of toughest Ramadans for them. We must now concentrate all our efforts to rebuild the country and help those who have been affected,” said Neva Khan Oxfam’s Country Director in Pakistan.
Notes to editors
Alixandra Fazzina (UK - 1974) is from a fine art background and began her career as a war artist in Bosnia. She has worked as a photojournalist throughout Eastern Europe, Africa, the middle east and Asia focusing on under reported conflicts and the often forgotten humanitarian consequences of war. Alixandra has an uncanny ability to work in the most difficult social and geographical environments and is recognised for her compassionate and empathetic approach towards the human condition, always fully aware of the bigger picture.
Alixandra’s reportages have been published across British and international titles including The Sunday Times, The Guardian and Observer, The Telegraph and The Independent as well as TIME, Newsweek, The New York Times and Stern. She works regularly with UN agencies and NGOs such as MSF, Concern, Oxfam, Save The Children and Human Rights Watch, to document their work and produce advocacy campaigns.
Alixandra is the author of “A Million Shillings - Escape From Somalia” (Trolley) which chronicles the exodus of migrants and refugees along people smuggling routes from Somalia to the Arabian Peninsula. Alixandra is based in Pakistan.
Oxfam and partners are mounting a response in three provinces Pakistan - Khyber Pakhtoonkkhwa (formerly NWFP), Sindh and Punjab. Oxfam is providing clean water and food, sanitation kits and hygiene supplies to some 600,000 people. We plan to scale up our response to reach 1.1 million people.
MADE in Europe is a UK-based NGO which aims to mobilise young Muslims to take a leading role in the fight against global poverty. We also provide capacity-building services for Muslim humanitarian and development NGOs and support for cross-faith initiatives in international development. Over the past year our projects have included: Act Global which trained and deployed young Muslim volunteers to disaster-affected countries including Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Haiti; Christian-Muslim Youth Forum which gave young people a platform for lobying policy-makers on climate change in the run up to COP15; and War on Climate Change, a project supporting young Muslims and Christians to run mini-campaigns in their local communities to keep climate change on the agenda in 2010. For more information about our projects, please visit www.madeineurope.org.uk.
To arrange an interview with Alixandra please contact Jonaid Jilani on +44 18 65 472193 or +44 7810 181514 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Alixandra Fazzina’s photographs can be downloaded at http://wordsandpictures.oxfam.org.uk/?c=7535&k=f91da6ef8f
To obtain strong video footage in 16 by 9 of both families in the UK and in Pakistan please contact Jonaid Jilani on +44 18 65 472193 or +44 7810 181514 or email@example.com