World Vision receives demand to close programs in Somalia

NAIROBI, Aug. 9 /CNW/ - World Vision Somalia received a demand today from Al Shabaab to close operations in Somalia. World Vision guards were disarmed and their keys were taken. Nothing was removed from the offices although Al Shabaab representatives occupied the offices.

World Vision is surprised and disappointed by the move, based on false accusations of spreading Christianity.

World Vision is a Christian organization, motivated by its faith to help children, families and communities living in poverty. The organization has specific policies that prohibit proselytizing and is a signatory to the Red Cross/Red Crescent Code of Conduct, guaranteeing impartiality in the distribution of aid.

The move to close the organization's operations in Somalia is unfortunate, especially coming at a time when there are more than 3.6 million people in Somalia who need urgent humanitarian aid; 700,000 of whom are children.

World Vision has supported development work and humanitarian programs in South Central Somalia for the 18 years. It also works in Somaliland and Puntland, especially among the people in remote areas.

At the moment, operations in affected areas of South Central Somalia have been temporarily suspended as we plan our next steps. Humanitarian operations in Somaliland and Puntland continue without interruption. The safety of our staff and the communities are our main priority.

Humanitarian agencies need guaranteed unfettered and unrestricted access to all needy populations in Somalia.

Facts:

  • World Vision employs 524 staff in Somalia
  • World Vision's Somalia activities span the entire spectrum of relief to rehabilitation programming with projects in health, nutrition, food aid, livelihood, anti-FGM, child protection, water and sanitation, shelter, HIV/AIDS, TB, peace building, and education.

Quotes:

"We are surprised and disappointed by Al Shabaab's demand that we close operations in Somalia. It's heartbreaking. More than 3.6 million people in Somalia need urgent aid and 700,000 of them are children." -Dave Toycen, President and CEO of World Vision Canada

"At the moment, operations in affected areas of South Central Somalia have been temporarily suspended as we plan our next steps. Humanitarian operations in Somaliland and Puntland continue without interruption. The safety of our staff and the communities are our main priority. Humanitarian agencies need guaranteed unfettered and unrestricted access to all needy populations in Somalia." -Chris Smoot, Director of Programs, World Vision Somalia

World Vision is a leading Christian relief, development and advocacy organisation dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. Inspired by our Christian values, we are dedicated to working with the world's most vulnerable people. We serve all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender.

SOURCE World Vision Canada

For further information: For further information:

For interviews contact: Sharon Marshall, 905-565-6200 x.2213, cell: 416-616-9147, Sharon_Marshall@WorldVision.ca


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