|Jesuit Refugee Service supports a negotiated resolution of the armed civil conflict in Colombia and advocates for policies that will lead to a just and sustainable peace in the region. (Christian Fuchs — Jesuit Refugee Service/USA)|
|To accompany is a practical and effective action. Our presence with refugees and forcibly displaced people can also be a sign: that a free person chooses willingly and faithfully to accompany those who are not free, who have no choice about their circumstances, is an affirmation of worth and a way of inspiring hope.|
Accompaniment is a key component of the mission of Jesuit Refugee Service. From the heroic work of JRS staff members in Syria to the work of JRS/USA partners in Haiti, accompaniment is the rock upon which our service and advocacy are built. Accompaniment is a practical and effective action, and is often precisely the way in which service is provided.
Refugees and others note how that aspect of JRS sets us apart from other relief organizations. "JRS is here to stay; we know we can count on them."
To accompany is a practical and effective action. In Panama, JRS teams provide a "ministry of presence" to vulnerable Colombian refugees in Panama City, Colon and the Darien jungle. This accompaniment is precisely the way in which protection is given. Our presence with refugees and forcibly displaced people can also be a sign: that a free person chooses willingly and faithfully to accompany those who are not free, who have no choice about their circumstances, is an affirmation of worth and a way of inspiring hope.
Our accompaniment of refugees guides us in our service. In the Kakuma refugee camp in northern Kenya, JRS works with women at risk of gender-based-violence. We listen to these refugees, we jointly discern their needs and aspirations, and we implement programs that can help them.
Furthermore, accompaniment often leads to advocacy, as we seek to give voice and visibility to the needs and aspirations of the refugees with which JRS lives and works. For example, JRS staff in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo work closely with JRS’ staff in Washington, D.C., Rome and Geneva, and have thus helped bring awareness to world leaders about the plight of internally displaced Congolese in North Kivu.
Advocacy is an integral part of the JRS mission and of our daily activities around the world. Addressing the root causes of human displacement and striving to change unjust policies are fundamental to the JRS mandate. Rooted in our fieldwork, our advocacy has brought about positive change in the way U.S. immigration detainees are able to exercise their religious practices while in detention. Every year there are countless examples of how JRS has helped to persuade UN bodies and government officials to be more responsive to refugee crises.
JRS advocacy is linked to, and dependent upon, the knowledge and understanding derived from our close relationship to the refugees themselves. The ability to mobilize the entire network to bring the voice of refugees to those who are in a position to effect positive change gives JRS advocacy its integrity — and is what makes it so effective.
2014 will mark the 30th Anniversary of the establishment of JRS in the U.S. I want to take the opportunity to revisit with you how relevant our original mission remains today as it was almost three decades ago. Our work is only possible thanks to your generosity and commitment to bear witness to the plight of the people we serve, and to help us be there with refugees and IDPs side-by-side on their journey.
Jesuit Refugee Service/USA is an international Catholic non-governmental organization whose mission is to accompany, serve and advocate for the rights of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons.
JRS/USA witnesses to God’s presence in vulnerable and often forgotten people driven from their homes by conflict, natural disaster, economic injustice, or violation of their human rights.
As one of the ten geographic regions of Jesuit Refugee Service, JRS/USA serves as the major refugee outreach arm of U.S. Jesuits and their institutional ministries, mobilizing their response to refugee situations in the U.S. and abroad. Through our advocacy and fund raising efforts, JRS/USA also provides support for the work of JRS throughout the world.
JRS/USA gives help, hope, ear and voice to vulnerable people on the move by being present to and bearing witness to their plight; by relieving their human suffering and restoring hope; by addressing the root causes of their displacement and improving international responses to refugee situations.
In addition, JRS/USA inspires the Ignatian family and others to respond together to the needs of refugees and displaced persons worldwide and forges strong partnerships with like-minded institutions and agencies devoted to the cause of refugees and displaced persons.
JRS works in more than 50 countries worldwide to meet the educational, health, social and other needs of approximately 700,000 refugees and other forcibly displaced persons, more than half of whom are women. JRS services are made available to refugees and displaced persons regardless of their race, ethnic origin, or religious beliefs.
JRS provides primary and secondary education to approximately 170,000 children, and undertakes advocacy to ensure that all displaced children are provided with a quality education.
Jesuit Refugee Service/USA is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.