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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) officially reopened the Aliebad Internally Displaced People (IDP)/Refugee shelter in the Naxcivan Autonomous Republic (NAR) on February 1. The ribbon-cutting ceremony was performed by Stanley Escudero, U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan, and Vahid Agahassonov, deputy speaker for parliament to NAR.
"During his speech, the ambassador assured the people of Naxcivan that the U.S. government, through ADRA and other organizations, will continue to provide much-needed assistance in Naxcivan until a solution for peace with Armenia is found and economic prosperity returned to the region," reports Bryan Cox, operations director for ADRA Azerbaijan.
It was in July 1999 that the ambassador first visited with ADRA, reviewing the agency's program portfolio to rehabilitate the IDP/refugee center, according to Cox. During this initial visit, Naxcivan governmental staff took the opportunity to show the ambassador the public building that was turned into a shelter in 1993 for refugees and IDPs. Eighty-five families lived in the Aliebad shelter without running water, electricity or sufficient sewerage systems. "The general condition of the building could be described as extremely poor, with broken windows, holes in the walls and floors, and a roof that had fallen into complete disrepair," adds Cox.
After hearing the desperate plight of the approximately 400 residents, Ambassador Escudero made US$100,000 available for the building to be renovated through the existing United States Agency for International Development (USAID) grant for Azerbaijan. ADRA in partnership with World Vision combined resources to facilitate the completion of this much-needed project. In addition to water and electricity supplies being connected to each home, local contractors were hired to replace the roof and gutter systems, to replace doors, walls, windows and floors where necessary, and to paint the entire building inside and out. With the remaining funds, it was also possible to install garbage disposal points and shower blocks with hot water tanks, and to create a community room.
"A key component of this program was the involvement of the community in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of their own homes," says Cox.
During both of his visits to the center, Ambassador Escudero took extra time to visit ADRA's other programs in NAR to offer his continual support for ADRA's work. Currently, ADRA Azerbaijan is implementing a U.S.-funded feeding assistance program offering food security to 230,000 vulnerable people nationwide; an economic development program providing micro-loans to rural farmers and local business people; and a health assistance program that supports 50 clinics across NAR helping, on average, 12,000 patients per month while also immunizing 2,500 children.
Other recent developments by ADRA Azerbaijan include the monetization of 11,550 tons (10,500 metric tonnes) of U.S. wheat grains for approximately US$1.5 million. The proceeds will fund two, two-year development programs in health and agriculture along the Azerbaijan frontline territory. This program will potentially impact the lives of 250,000 people. ADRA also recently received provisional approval from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for a two-year Transitional Development Feeding Assistance program to continue the much-needed assistance to 230,000 IDPs, refugees and vulnerables. Both programs are scheduled to commence on August 1 this year.
For more information about ADRA and its worldwide projects, please call the toll-free number 1-800-424-ADRA (2372) or visit the ADRA web site at www.adra.org.