March 16, 2016

Slovenia Recognizes ADRA’s Work With Refugees

, with reporting by ADRA Slovenia

Slovenia’s government has awarded a local branch of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency with the prestigious Civil Protection National Bronze Medallion for its ongoing work in the European refugee crisis.

The Defense Ministry presented ADRA Slovenia with award during a ceremony on World Civil Defense Day on March 1.

“We are very grateful for this award for the dedication and success in working with refugees,” said Maja Ahac, ADRA’s Slovenia country director. “We are proud and we thank all those who are a part of this great humanitarian story.”Maja Ahac, ADRA’s Slovenia country director, center, with Slovenian Defense Minister Andreja Katič, right, and Tereza Novak, executive director of Slovene Philanthropy. (TED)

Several days after the event, four ADRA volunteers received plaques for their refugee work at a regional civil protection awards ceremony in the southeastern town of Sevnica.

A total of 477,791 refugees, mostly from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, entered Slovenia from October 2015 to mid-March 2016, according to government figures. That equals nearly a quarter of the European country’s 2.1 million population.

The vast majority of the refugees passed through Brežice-Dobova, an area where ADRA is concentrating its efforts. Here they collect and sort donated goods, with hygienic and baby products being a high priority. ADRA takes primary responsibility for care of refugees at the train station in Dobova, where most refugees enter Slovenia and are registered, and at a nearby registration camp.

Since the Adventist Church has only 14 churches and a membership of just over 500 people in Slovenia, ADRA relies on volunteers from a wide range of backgrounds.

“The prize belongs to all ADRA Slovenia volunteers who have been selflessly helping refugees and migrants in need, every day from last summer onwards,” Ahac said.

Read also: ADRA Volunteers Hear Harrowing Stories in Slovenia

ADRA’s local work does not stop there. It is also a donor office, providing support to Greece, Serbia, and Macedonia. Those donor activities are poised to increase in light of changes in European migration policies and the closing of the Balkan migration route, leaving refugees at the borders of Macedonia, Greece, and Turkey.

World Civil Defense Day highlights the importance of civil defense and protection of all citizens at work, schools, home, and elsewhere. Organized by the International Civil Defense Organization, it provides a platform to raise awareness of the need to prepare for and prevent disasters.