Who are we?
The African Refugee Development Center (ARDC) is a non-profit organization founded in 2004 by refugees and Israeli citizens to assist, support and empower refugees and asylum seekers in Israel. The ARDC seeks to ensure access to basic social services, and to facilitate refugee and asylum seeker integration, self-sufficiency and ownership in matters affecting their lives. The ARDC advocates for the rights of refugees and asylum seekers and for a humane and fair Israeli asylum policy. It divides its work between individual counseling, humanitarian aid, education, community development, awareness raising and policy initiatives.
To date, the ARDC has served over 10,000 refugees and asylum seekers from countries such as Eritrea, Sudan, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia and the Ivory Coast, just to name a few. Of these individuals, an estimated 3,500 received emergency humanitarian assistance, such as, accommodation, medical care and trauma counselling. A significant majority were also counselled about the asylum procedure, employment and housing opportunities and received psychosocial support. In addition, in 2011 more than 700 refugees and asylum seekers accessed educational and support services, such as, language tuition, through our Refugee Education Center.
Refugees and asylum seekers themselves established the ARDC originally and to this day a majority of the key decision-making positions are held by them, such as management roles and as members of our Board of Directors. Further, many who received help from the ARDC when they first arrived in Israel often return to us as volunteers―seeing it as an opportunity to give back what they have received. We hold the philosophy that such participation develops the community’s sense of ownership, commitment and empowerment.
Our partners and funders
The ARDC maintains close partnerships with a variety of community and human rights organizations, governmental and municipal bodies, schools and universities, individuals and businesses. Among its partners are Physicians for Human Rights, The Refugee Rights Clinic at Tel Aviv University, Hotline for Migrant Workers, Assaf and Mesila.
The ARDC has been an implementing partner organization of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) since 2009.
In 2012, the ARDC's primary funders are the UNHCR, Sigrid Rausing Trust, European Union, Royal Netherlands Embassy, New Israel Fund, The Good People Fund and private individuals. To see our full list of past and present donors click here.
The ARDC was founded in 2004 by Yohannes Bayu, a refugee from Ethiopia, who is still our Executive Director today. Yohannes was motivated by his own difficult experience as an asylum seeker in Israel to help others in his position. He arrived in Israel in 1997 and was only officially recognized as a refugee some five years later in 2002 following a three-week hunger strike and legal action against the Israeli Ministry of Interior in the Supreme Court.