For two and a half days, directors from 16 JRS national offices in Europe came together with the JRS Europe team for a regional coordination meeting in Zagreb, Croatia. This bi-annual meeting is a key occasion for JRS in Europe to build our common projects and work to accompany, serve and advocate for refugees in the region.
“We see JRS offices in Europe rising to the challenge of increased needs for refugees in Europe as a whole. Many JRS teams are growing such as in the UK and in France, some teams are new such as in Serbia and other teams are learning from bilateral exchanges, such as those between Portugal and Greece.
This is a time of growth and cooperation. We share a strong common vision for refugees in Europe and we are working together to achieve that,” said JRS Europe director Jose Ignacio Garcia SJ after the meeting.
The programme for the meeting included key updates from each country, advocacy sessions around the Common European Asylum System reform proposals and alternatives to detention, and group work on the JRS Europe strategic plan.
A highlight for participants was a visit to the reception centre for asylum seekers near Zagreb on the afternoon of March 28th. There were presentations by JRS staff working in the centre and by the director of the centre, followed by a tour and time to speak with the refugees staying there. Several directors were also interviewed by Croatian journalists about the situation of refugees in Europe.
Director of JRS South-East Europe, Tvrtko Barun SJ, said “It was a pleasure to host the coordination meeting and to welcome colleagues from all over Europe to Croatia.”
The Spiritual-Educational Centre Mary’s Court run by the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul with Lužnica baroque manor, its lake and green grounds as a peaceful backdrop, provided the perfect setting for reflection during the meeting, which ran from the 27th to the 29th of March.
The next regional coordination meeting will take place in Brussels in the autumn.