“Today, as an organisation with 35 years of experience, we are working in 50 different countries to serve over one million refugees and forcibly displaced people.”
The mission of the Jesuit Refugee Service is to show humanity and to help forcibly displaced persons. We are aware that all subsidies of the world can never replace the warmth of human presence that is experienced when people help each other. JRS recognizes the importance of upholding the human dignity of displaced people through accompanying them.
Our direct and personal approach to every human being as well as our cooperation with our beneficiaries empowers refugees and migrants (as well as JRS staff). JRS provides them with accompaniment during difficult times when they are passing through the refugee camps, fleeing from their homes in war zones or living in detention centers for foreigners. JRS staff understands how to best stand up for them.
“Our close and personal contact with people, our presence among them, helps us to understand what their real needs are,” said Bernard Arputhasamy SJ, former JRS Director for the Asia-Pacific region.
To accompany means to be someone’s friend. We are Jesus’ friends and associates, and that is why we want to be companions of those with whose name he would like to be associated: the poor and expelled. Our operation is very practical and effective. Often, accompaniment is a way to provide protection and “internationalize” the situation in which some displaced persons are. The presence of the international team often can prevent attacks against refugees and migrants. Moreover, our presence is a clear message that we as a free people are willing to voluntarily, and with faith, stand beside those who are deprived of freedom, and who cannot choose what to do with their lives. It is this presence that is a comfort and a way of arousing hope for a better tomorrow.
Our accompaniment is a sign of confirmation that God is present in every segment of human history, even in those most tragic moments. We want to allow them to experience His presence and know that they are not abandoned. As pastoral workers, we are focused on progress and not burdened by political interests or religious and ethnic divisions among the people who we are helping or between institutions and governments that decide their fate.
As members of JRS we are internationally recognized by our connection with the people who we help in shelters and reception centers, refugee camps, war zones, post-war circumstances…
Being with people in need is the essence of JRS. This is a permanent ideal, both personally and pastorally, and is best defined by the JRS Serbia founders in 1985: “JRS really brings an extra dimension to its work…trying to emphasize how it is more important to be present with someone than to do something for him. We want our presence among the refugees to be presence of sharing, accompanying and moving in the same direction.”