(Rome) November 17, 2014 — Fr Adolfo Nicolás, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, will discuss the challenges of the reception of refugees with Fr Federico Lombardi, Director of the Press Office of the Holy See.
It will be an opportunity explore the concept of refugee reception, borders and asylum. The meeting, also coinciding with International Children's Day, will dedicate space to discussing the education of refugee minors, one of the principal areas of intervention of the Jesuit Refugee Service worldwide.
The colloquium will be introduced by Fathers Peter Balleis S.J., JRS International Director, and Camillo Ripamonti S.J., Centro Astalli Director, followed by testimonies by Tareq Al Jabr, a Syrian refugee living in Italy and Fr Mourad Abu Seif, a Jesuit from Aleppo, who will speak of the war tearing apart Syria and its people.
Fr Balleis: "Having fled persecution and violence, refugees search for safety and hospitality which makes it possible for them and their hosts to build a common future. More than 30 years of experience has convinced us that hospitality opens doors and makes that possible. We are talking about a practical hospitality, food, shelter, education. It is through education that generations of refugee children can have the opportunities offered to others; to build communities of peace and respect for difference.
Fr Ripamonti: "Refugees today face terrible dangers trying to reach Europe. They risk everything to exercise their right to live in freedom and dignity in peaceful and democratic societies. Let's put an end to this futile fear and welcome those fleeing war and persecution who seek protection. Let's make Europe a place of asylum. The Mediterranean should once again become a European sea, which unites peoples and cultures."
Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) programs are found in 50 countries, providing assistance to: refugees in camps and cities, individuals displaced within their own countries, asylum seekers in cities, and to those held in detention centers. The main areas of work are in the field of education, emergency assistance, healthcare, livelihood activities and social services.
At the end of 2013, JRS employed approximately 1,400 staff: lay, Jesuits and other religious to meet the education, health, social and other needs of nearly 950,000 refugees and IDPs, more than half of whom are women. Services are provided to refugees regardless of race, ethnic origin or religious beliefs.
Centro Astalli is the Italian office of Jesuit Refugee Service. Established in 1981, its headquarters are based on via degli Astalli in Rome. Accompaniment of refugees and the sharing of their experience is central to all the services offered by Centro Astalli, from reception for recent arrivals to advocacy and public awareness activities. Thanks to the ongoing efforts of more than 450 volunteers, Centro Astalli provided services to more than 34,300 forced migrants in Rome, Vicenza, Trento, Catania and Palermo, nearly 21,000 in Rome alone.