September 21st, 2009 | by Anna Kramer
As I write this from a borrowed office near Manhattan’s UN plaza, a police officer leans against the window a few feet away. I can hear the crackle of her radio and the tap of her nightstick against the glass; I can see her stance, weary yet alert. For the last hour, she’s been carefully eyeing each pedestrian who wanders past.
Because of this week’s UN General Assembly, including a high-level climate summit that begins tomorrow, the neighborhood is full of police officers guarding newly erected metal barriers. With more than 100 world leaders in town—including President Obama—security is understandably tight.
I also noticed this extra security at today’s Climate Week NYC opening ceremony, where celebrities and world leaders (including Rt. Hon. Tony Blair, Hugh Jackman, and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon) kicked off a week of climate change events. In just one day, I’d gone from a grassroots stunt led by Oxfam campaigners and featuring thousands of volunteer activists—the Human Countdown in Central Park—to an invite-only panel that showcased the voices of power.
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September 16th, 2009 | by Anna Kramer
This weekend in New York City, I’m going to be part of something truly unusual. I’ll be one of more than 2,000 people who will form a moving human sculpture of our world in a race against time: a massive, living planet earth and hourglass. Called the Human Countdown, this event will be broadcast by media outlets around the world, and will send an urgent message to leaders that time is running out to take action on climate change.
Why is now such a crucial time? Because, two days after this event, world leaders are gathering in New York for the UN Climate Summit—the first in a series of key moments when presidents and prime ministers will make major decisions about the future of our planet. Leaders, including President Obama, are meeting in New York and Pittsburgh in September and in Copenhagen in December, where they will decide whether or not to stop the clock on climate change.
I’ll be there, blogging about the event for Oxfam. And if you’re concerned about climate change—especially the way it’s already affecting poor people here and abroad—I hope you’ll be there too. Having just come back from Ethiopia, where I saw communities facing increasingly severe drought, I feel a new sense of urgency to get away from my desk and actually do something about it.
The Human Countdown will be held at the Wollman Rink in Central Park on Sunday, September 20, and will feature national and international speakers, celebrities, and great music. Sign up to be part of it on our website—hope to see you there.
July 17th, 2009 | by Coco McCabe
Beds crowd a bare room at a clinic in Congo where rape survivors receive medical and psychological care. Photo by Liz Lucas/Oxfam America
I’ve been thinking about a string of words that appeared in the headline of an Oxfam press release on the Democratic Republic of Congo earlier this week: “Rape, forced labor, reprisal attacks, and torture.” They describe the surge in brutality civilians have endured from all sides since the start of the year when the Congolese government began a UN-backed military offensive against a rebel group in the conflict-torn eastern provinces of the country.
I’ve been to Congo. I’ve seen the conditions in those eastern provinces. I’ve heard many painful stories about the hardships and trauma people there live with daily. So why has that headline rattled me? Read the rest of this entry »
December 30th, 2008 | by Anna Kramer
Marina Nyandwi, 70, weaver and resident of Mugunga Camp, Goma, DRC, pictured with her grandsons. Photo: Rankin / Oxfam
Here’s Oxfam’s Louis Belanger blogging for the Huffington Post, on what the UN must do to help civilians in the conflict-torn Democratic Republic of Congo:
So earlier this week, the UN Security Council adopted unanimously a resolution that revised the mandate of UN peacekeepers to focus on the crisis in the eastern provinces of North Kivu and South Kivu. The force, known as MONUC, is authorized to have 22,000 soldiers and police.
Oxfam and the people of Congo`s call for prioritization of this “protection mandate” has been answered.
However, strong words on a piece of paper are not enough …
People caught up in this tragedy tell us that they cannot understand why the world’s biggest UN peacekeeping force is doing so little to help them. They are at the mercy of armed groups on all sides and offered little protection from rape, murder and abduction.
It’s time for UN peacekeepers to be led and given all the means to stop this madness.
December 12th, 2008 | by Anna Kramer
Jamil Hamzah walks through rice fields in Gampang Ladang, Indonesia, where Oxfam helped farmers purchase rice paddy seed. According to a new UN report, Indonesia is one of just seven countries where 65 percent of the world’s hungry people live. Photo: Jim Holmes/Oxfam
Each day, the epidemic is spreading further across the globe, extending its tendrils into every nation on earth. It strikes women and children first, as well as the poorest among us. Nearly 1 billion people are already affected, and this year alone, an additional 40 million more suffered its symptoms: fatigue, dizziness, extreme weakness, even death.
The thing is, you don’t read much about this epidemic in the headlines these days. No one’s handing out ribbons or marching for a cure. Though it’s treatable, people aren’t doing much to prevent it. In fact, hardly anyone seems to be paying attention.
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December 10th, 2008 | by Andrea Perera
An Oxfam activist shows a “Stop Harming – Start Helping” Christmas card delivered to UN Climate negotiators meeting right now in Poznan, Poland.
Oxfam is campaigning in Poznan for funding to help poor communities around the world become stronger in the face of climate change. They have the knowledge and the skills. They just need the funding to: plant protective barriers of mangroves around their coastlines, build cereal banks to store food, establish early warning systems for storms and floods, and fortify existing infrastructure like bridges and roads.
Credit: Pablo Tosco / Oxfam International
To see more photos from Oxfam’s stunts in Poznan, visit our Flickr page. To join our campaign, click here.
November 21st, 2008 | by Coco McCabe
New arrivals are streaming into Bulengo Camp in Democratic Republic of Congo every day. The UN is seeking $7 billion in 2009 to help some of the millions of people around the world caught in conflict--like those in Congo. Photo by Oxfam
Here’s some food for thought as Thanksgiving approaches. On Wednesday, in its 2009 humanitarian appeal, the United Nations made its largest request ever for support in the coming year for 30 million people snared by disaster and conflict: $7 billion. That’s just one-hundredth of what we have agreed to spend here in the US to bail ourselves out of our own financial troubles. Read the rest of this entry »
October 27th, 2008 | by Anna Kramer
Family members share a meal in a house where village residents are hosting refugees from the Casamance, in the village of Janack in the Gambia. Photo: Rebecca Blackwell / Oxfam America
There are a lot of problems facing our next president, none of them simple. Watching all the rhetoric flying around, I keep thinking that words only mean so much; whoever wins this election better be able to come up with some nuts-and-bolts solutions.
But here’s one issue we haven’t heard much about, yet would be relatively straightforward to tackle: the global food crisis.
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