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28 million people in the Middle East need humanitarian aid

Today is World Humanitarian Day and Oxfam Ireland are calling for help.

An Iraqi internally displaced Yazidi child receives a polio vaccine at the town of Khanke, outside Dahuk, 260 miles (430 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad.
An Iraqi internally displaced Yazidi child receives a polio vaccine at the town of Khanke, outside Dahuk, 260 miles (430 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

Updated at 9am

TODAY MARKS WORLD Humanitarian Day, with one Irish charity saying that attention needs to be paid to the Middle East specifically.

Oxfam Ireland says that there are 28 million people in the region who need humanitarian aid.

The figures drawn from Iraq, Gaza, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Yemen show the scale of the humanitarian crisis in the region.

Oxfam’s Jim Clarken says that people should not ignore what is going on in the Middle East.

“The scale and breadth of crises taking place across the world today can be overwhelming – from our newspapers in the morning to our screens in the evenings we are faced with the suffering of so many.

“The temptation is to look away, to shrug our shoulders powerless in the face of these humanitarian needs.

However we can help and we do help. Oxfam is working across the world to meet emergency needs, including South Sudan, the Middle East, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia.

“Last year, Oxfam responded to 24 humanitarian emergencies reaching 6.1 million people. And today on World Humanitarian Day we can acknowledge the work of our humanitarian personnel who are on the ground, in the middle of these crises, making a difference.”

Mideast Iraq Displaced Iraqis from the Yazidi community look for clothes to wear among items provided by a charity organization at the Nowruz camp, in Derike, Syria Source: AP/Press Association Images

Oxfam Ireland’s Humanitarians on the ground include Ciara O’Malley from Rathfarnham in Dublin, who is a member of Oxfam’s emergency response teams in South Sudan.

Speaking about her work in the region ahead of World Humanitarian Day, she said:

“I manage Oxfam’s humanitarian response in a place called UN House in Juba, which is a UN base and has three big camps in it with 250,000 people who have fled the conflict.

“Thinking of the scale it might be difficult to imagine how we can change things but we do – since December, we have reached 261,000 people at several locations across South Sudan with food, clean water, sanitation, hygiene materials and other essentials.”

To donate to Oxfam, click here.

Tribute

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charlie Flanagan and Development Minister Seán Sherlock today paid tribute to aid workers and humanitarian efforts.

Speaking of the crises currently being addressed by the international community, Flanagan said that 2014 has already proven “to be another difficult and challenging year on the humanitarian front”.

Sherlock spoke of the threats facing aid workers on a daily basis in places afflicted by conflict:

Violence continues to exact a heavy toll on humanitarian personnel. I would like to take this opportunity to express my condolences on behalf of the Irish people to the families, friends, and colleagues of the 54 humanitarian aid workers killed so far in 2014, and the 155 killed in 2013.

He said that Ireland “condemns in the strongest possible terms all attacks on aid workers” as they work to provide urgent assistance to people affected by humanitarian crisis.

- Additional reporting by Susan Ryan

Read: “There are so many emergencies to respond to, there aren’t enough people”

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