Connect with us


JRS at 35: Honoring a life of service to the vulnerable
November 04, 2015

JRS at 35: Honoring a life of service to the vulnerable
Katrine Camilleri interviews a refugee on Malta. (Alexandra Pace for JRS)
(Washington, D.C.) November 4, 2015 — On Dec. 1, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA will present JRS Malta Director Dr. Katrine Camilleri with the JRS Service Award. The award is one of three to commemorate the founding of JRS in November 1980. 

For almost two decades Dr. Camilleri, a lawyer and the director of JRS Malta, has provided practical service and moral support to thousands of boat people arriving on the island nation. She has championed the rights of migrants seeking refuge, providing legal advice, organizing visits, providing psychological support and facilitating access to healthcare.

Service is one of the three pillars of the JRS mission: to accompany, serve and advocate for the rights of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons. JRS services are made available to refugees and displaced persons regardless of their race, ethnic origin, or religious beliefs. 

In 2007 the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees honored Dr. Camilleri with its prestigious Nansen Refugee Award for her outstanding work protecting and assisting refugees, and for advocating on their behalf despite threats and personal risk. Earlier this year she was one of three recipients of the Roland Berger Foundation’s annual Human Dignity Award, an international accolade given for outstanding achievements or initiatives that succeed in promoting human dignity and human rights.

Dr. Camilleri, a native of Malta, came into direct contact with refugees when she began working in a small law firm after graduating from the University of Malta in 1994. Her interest in serving refugees grew after helping to prevent the deportation of a Libyan asylum seeker who risked persecution if returned home, and in 1996 she joined JRS Malta – first as a volunteer, then part time and eventually full time.

In 2002, when the number of asylum seekers arriving to Malta by boat from North Africa increased sharply, JRS Malta shifted its focus to helping migrants held in the island’s detention centers. JRS still is the only organization to offer professional legal service on a regular basis to these detainees.

Dr. Camilleri activism hasn’t come without a price, as she and JRS Malta faced a series of violent attacks in 2006 and 2007 for their work. Arsonists set fire to her car and the front door of her house, trapping her family inside.

Despite the risks Dr. Camilleri continues to devote her energy to expand JRS services in Malta, securing funding for more professional staff and establishing projects offering social work, healthcare and educational services to all refugees.           

***

JRS supporters and friends are invited to join us for the JRS 35th Anniversary Awards Dinner on Dec. 1, as we commemorate 35 years of service to refugees and the forcibly displaced. The dinner will be held at One West 54th Street in New York. 

Tickets and sponsorships can be purchased on our EventBrite page, just click here. To become an underwriter of the event please email or call Pat McDermott at 202-629-5939 or Clare Bonsignore at 202-629-5948.

***

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. 



Press Contact Information
Mr Christian Fuchs
christian.fuchs@jrs.net
202-629-5946