Covid-19 forces Oxfam to shut offices in 18 countries, many fear tough times ahead

Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic

Due to the increasing financial strain, caused by the corona-preventive lockdown, Oxfam International decided to shut its offices in 18 countries across the world, including Afghanistan, Paraguay, Haiti, Egypt, Rwanda, Sudan and Tanzania. The organisation, which is one of the world’s leading aid agencies, fired almost 1,450 of its  employees, comprising a third of its program staff, amid ongoing global financial slump caused by the pandemic onslaught of coronavirus. Due to the lockdown, the organisation was forced to shut its shops, which made it bear loss of £5m every month.

The organisation which currently operates in 66 countries via 20 affiliated offices around the world, said in a statement late Wednesday it is undertaking structural changes.

“We’ve been planning this for some time but we are now accelerating key decisions in light of the effects of the global pandemic,” said Oxfam International’s interim executive director Chema Vera.

Many fear the closing of its operations would bring doom upon the poorest and most vulnerable who anyway were never visible or important to many governments or local authorities. Sarah Champion, chairwoman of the House of Commons international development committee, said the announcement was likely to hit developing nations the most. Besides, the charitable organisation used to support various projects in collaboration with local groups and NGOs to promote women’s rights, sustainable development, health and hygiene, food supply and poverty alleviation, but now all those projects were likely to close down soon.

Social worker Modaser Islami said the closure of Oxfam’s Afghanistan office told the Guardian, “It’s most worrying because the type of work Oxfam has been doing improved livelihoods in rural areas where most others don’t reach, both aid groups and governments. They have no other sources of incomes, just a little land, and face challenges getting healthcare, also education.” Óscar López, head of Oxfam Paraguay, said: “We hope that our contribution to strengthening civil society will continue to bear fruit.” Carlos Mejia, the executive director of Oxfam in Colombia, said: “The decision to leave countries was anything but easy, it was a painful decision.”

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