AN English class for urban refugees at the Jesuit Refugee Service Community Center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (Christian Fuchs — Jesuit Refugee Service/USA)
(Washington, D.C.) May 22, 2013 — Since our inception in 1980, Jesuit Refugee Service has been actively engaged in developing programs of support to help urban refugees meet their needs and further their aspirations in urban environments.
Today, with more than one half of the world’s refugees living in towns and cities rather than in traditional refugee camp settings, JRS is engaged in a worldwide process of taking stock of its urban programs in a commitment to accompany serve, and advocate for the rights of urban refugees even more effectively.
As a first step in this process, we brought together 42 participants from JRS offices, partner organizations and educational institutions in 23 countries for a workshop in Bangkok in March 2012 to share their collective experience in serving urban refugees.
In the course of this dialogue, participants identified the major challenges that JRS seeks to address in responding to urban refugee needs and aspirations, articulated principles, methodologies and strategies to guide our response, and shared examples of successful interventions.A concise summary of the findings of JRS' Urban Refugee Workshop are available in Working with Urban Refugees, A Handbook. The handbook describes the challenges faced by urban refugees in the areas of access to services, protection and rights, meeting basic material needs, livelihoods, education, and psychosocial and mental health. It identifies the guiding principles and elements of approach that JRS will use to guide our response as we accompany urban refugees on their journey.