|Through this award, Pax Christi International acknowledges JRS Syria's tireless efforts in providing services to vulnerable people affected by conflict, and welcomes the organization's aim of expanding its activities to promoting peace and reconciliation among divided communities in Syria.|
(Rome) March 31, 2014 — The 2014 Pax Christi International Peace Award has been granted to Jesuit Refugee Service Syria for dedication in providing emergency relief to Syrians since the conflict began in 2011. Established in 1988, the Award is funded by the Cardinal Bernardus Alfrink Peace Fund and honors contemporary individuals and organizations who make a stand for peace, justice and non-violence in different parts of the world.
Jesuit Refugee Service is an international Catholic organization with a mission to to accompany, serve and advocate on behalf of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons. JRS programs are found in more than 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.
In the Middle East and North Africa, JRS began its work in 2008 in response to the huge number of Iraqi refugees fleeing the conflict in their country. Following the violent events in Syria from 2011 onwards, JRS Syria is now mainly focusing on emergency relief to those in greatest need, medical support and educational activities to enhance reconciliation and co-existence amongst people of different socio-economic and faith backgrounds.
Currently, JRS emergency relief consists of food support, provision of hygiene kits and non-food items such as blankets and clothes, basic healthcare, shelter management and rent support. Fundamental to the mission of JRS Syria is the educational and psychosocial support that is offered to 9,800 children and women. Other services include legal and medical referrals, family visits, and small livelihood projects. In total, more than 300,000 people are helped by JRS in Damascus, Homs, Aleppo and the coastal areas of Syria.
JRS Syria helps civil society to resist the logic of war and to survive the violence that threatens to overwhelm and destroy communities. Perhaps the most obvious challenge facing JRS, as a faith-based organization, is that religion plays such a significant role in the Middle East, often as a mark of difference, exploited to spark conflict. Bringing people together is not easy in such a scenario. The JRS teams are composed of people of different faiths, of national staff and international volunteers, who serve all without distinction. JRS strives to serve all marginalized groups, be they Muslims or Christians. In this way, inter-religious dialogue remains at the heart of JRS daily activities.
The work of JRS is guided by the humanitarian principles of humanity, independence, impartiality and neutrality. JRS is inspired by the core values of compassion, justice, participation, solidarity, hospitality, dignity and hope.
Through this award, Pax Christi International acknowledges JRS Syria's tireless efforts in providing services to vulnerable people affected by conflict, and welcomes the organization's aim of expanding its activities to promoting peace and reconciliation among divided communities in Syria. At the same time, the award symbolically honors humanitarian workers — women and men, compassionately serving fellow Syrians suffering due to the effects of the three-year long civil war.
The Peace Award Ceremony will take place on June 8, 2014 in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the context of the International Peace Event.