OXFAM’S Bicester logistics base is providing a vital lifeline to thousands as the charity faces its biggest humanitarian disaster in Africa.
Around 70 tonnes of water treatment and sanitation equipment has already been sent to drought-ravaged east Africa from Oxfam’s warehouse in Arkwright Road, and three more lorry-loads are due to be sent out next week.
Equipment sent so far has included five miles of piping to allow water to be pumped to one refugee camp.
More than half a million people are in danger of starvation, the charity says, with a total of 15 million people affected by drought and famine in Somalia, southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya.
“East Africa’s humanitarian crisis is at the tipping point. Hundreds of thousands will face starvation unless donors step forward, maintain the generosity we have seen in recent weeks and help prevent a catastrophe,” said Oxfam spokesman Elise Ford on Tuesday.
Churches in Bicester have helped by organising several collections for charities involved in the east Africa disaster appeal over the last fortnight.
Last Sunday, Emmanuel Church in Bure Park voted to donate its entire collection to the Disaster Emergency Committee, of which Oxfam is a member.
The Reverend Chris Boyce, of Emmanuel Church, described the unfolding East African disaster as, ‘mind-numbingly awful.’
St Edburg’s Church has also held collections for the disaster appeal through Christian Aid, with money being sent last week.
Staff at the Bicester warehouse have also been working flat-out to prepare equipment for delivery.
“It’s a very, very busy time,” said warehouse supervisor Helen Moore.
“It means we’re having to totally prioritise. We’ve got orders coming in from all over the world but we’re having to say ‘sorry’.”
She said British Airways was supporting Oxfam by providing space in its cargo holds free-of-charge.
Oxfam hopes to reach three million people with its £50 million East Africa appeal.
For more information and to donate online, visit www.oxfam.org.uk