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In meeting with JRS on Saturday, Pope Francis to highlight education for refugees
November 12, 2015

In meeting with JRS on Saturday, Pope Francis to highlight education for refugees
A young refugee from Eritrea studies at the Jesuit Refugee Service library at Mai Aini refugee camp in northern Ethiopia, February 24, 2015. More than 18,000 refugees from neighboring Eritrea live in the camp. (Christian Fuchs — Jesuit Refugee Service/USA)
For 35 years, JRS has provided quality education as a tool for people to better fulfill their own potential and fully contribute to the growth, strength and stability of their communities.

(Rome) November 12, 2015 — Fifteen refugees, as well as staff and friends of Jesuit Refugee Service, will attend a private audience with Pope Francis on Saturday. The Pope will speak about the importance of education for refugee children and youth as a means to build peace and foster the development of more resilient and cohesive societies. 

The event will commemorate the 35th anniversary of JRS, founded on November 14, 1980 by the former Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Pedro Arrupe S.J. 


Pope Francis has long urged Catholics to welcome refugees, saying the world is currently suffering from a "globalization of indifference," ignoring those who cry out for mercy. On Saturday, as a precursor to the Holy Year of Mercy to launch on 8 December, the Pope will formally recognize and pledge support for the JRS Global Education Initiative, an initiative aimed to extend JRS' educational programs to 100,000 additional refugees by the year 2020.


Refugees face a variety of barriers trying to access education, from overcrowding in schools to xenophobia in host communities. Their fundamental right to education is often lost. Among refugee children globally, only 36 percent attend secondary school and less than one percent have the opportunity to pursue a higher education.


For 35 years, JRS has provided quality education as a tool for people to better fulfill their own potential and fully contribute to the growth, strength and stability of their communities. Schools allow those who have been forced to flee their homes to rebuild a shared space, a community, a sense of normality. 


Pope Francis has historically called the public to protect refugees and care for the most vulnerable. Access to education can keep children safe and protected from risks, including gender-based violence, recruitment into armed groups, child labor and early marriage. 


The audience will take place in the Sala Clementina in the Vatican. Though not able to enter the Sala Clementina, interested press will be able to watch a live feed of the event from the Sala Stampa of the Holy See located at the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican City. Interviews may be conducted before the event with several refugees and JRS International Director, Fr Thomas Smolich S.J., from 9-10am at the JRS international office at Via Borgo Santo Spirito, 8. 


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. 


To accompany means to be a companion. We are companions of Jesus, so we wish to be companions of those with whom he preferred to be associated, the poor and the outcast. JRS services are made available to refugees and displaced persons regardless of their race, ethnic origin, or religious beliefs. JRS advocates for just and generous policies and programs for the benefit of victims of forced displacement, so that those made vulnerable by exile can receive support and protection and durable solution to their plight can be achieved. 


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 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 45 countries worldwide to meet the educational, health, social and other needs of nearly 760,000 refugees and other forcibly displaced persons, more than half of whom are women. JRS services are available to refugees and displaced persons regardless of their race, ethnic origin, or religious beliefs.


In 2014, approximately 142,000 children, young people and adults received primary, secondary, tertiary and vocational education services. JRS places the highest priority on ensuring a better future for refugees by investing heavily in education and training. Further, JRS undertakes advocacy to ensure all displaced children be provided with access to quality education. JRS services are provided to refugees regardless of race, ethnic origin or religious beliefs.


Jesuit Refugee Service/USA is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law. 


JRS and Education

Press Contact Information
Jacquelyn Pavilon
jacquelyn.pavilon@jrs.net
+39 06 69 868 609