The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) has been banned from Somalia along with two other Christian aid organizations, according to a report from the Associated Press.
The militant Islamist group al-Shabab, with ties to al-Qaeda, issued a statement on Monday barring ADRA, Diakonia and World Vision from operating in Somalia, alleging that the organizations were proselytizing under the guise of humanitarian aid, according to the AP report.
ADRA spokesman Hearly Mayr told Spectrum that the Adventist aid organization operates in South-Central and Northern Somalia in three specific regions: Bakool, Bay and Hiiraan. Projects include water sanitation, solar energy infrastructure development and increased access to education.
On its website, ADRA issued a statement denying any involvement in proselytizing through its humanitarian efforts. The statement said:
- ADRA expects that the order to close its operations in the south-central part of Somalia will adversely affect more than 180,000 people...
As a global international humanitarian organization, ADRA is a signatory of the Code of Conduct for The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Relief, which states that "aid will not be used to further a particular political or religious standpoint", that "aid is given regardless of the race, creed, or nationality", and that organizations "shall respect culture and custom." Based on this code of conduct, ADRA implements programs that directly improve the long-term development of vulnerable people.
Due to its global humanitarian work in more than 120 countries worldwide, ADRA has established a reputation for working in harmony with and respecting a broad array of cultures, traditions, and beliefs. The positive impact of ADRA's contributions in all these countries validates the agency’s heritage and belief in benevolent giving.
Since 1992, ADRA’s work in Somalia has focused solely on implementing emergency relief and development interventions through various sectors, including water, sanitation, food security, education, health, infrastructure, institutional capacity building, agricultural support, and economic development. In 2008 alone, more than 650,000 Somalis benefitted from ADRA’s humanitarian work, which is located in various regions in northern and south-central Somalia. ADRA remains committed to serving the people of Somalia as circumstances allow.
The AP reported that in addition to ordering the Christian organizations out of the country, al-Shabab also overran World Vision's offices in Duale, Baidoa and Wajid. It was not immediately clear whether ADRA's offices were under similar threat.
For more information on ADRA's operations in Somalia, visit www.adrasom.org.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/2579