The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) is an international Catholic organisation with a mission to accompany, serve and advocate on behalf of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons. JRS undertakes services at national and regional levels with the support of an international office in Rome. Founded in November 1980 as a work of the Society of Jesus, JRS was officially registered on 19 March 2000 at the Vatican State as a foundation.
JRS programmes 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 centres. The main areas of work are in the field of education, emergency assistance, healthcare, livelihood activities and social services. At the end of 2011, more than 700,000 individuals were direct beneficiaries of JRS projects.
More than 1,400 workers contribute to the work of JRS, the many of whom work on a voluntary basis, including about 78 Jesuits and 66 religious from other congregations. These figures do not include the large number of refugees recruited to take part in the programmes as teachers, health workers and others.
JRS is also very much concerned with advocacy and human rights work. This involves ensuring that refugees are afforded their full rights while in exile and during repatriation as guaranteed by the 1951 Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and working to strengthen the protection afforded to internally displaced persons (IDPs). It extends to lobbying for and promoting international human rights legislation, either through participation in international campaigns and coalitions or through membership of international fora, such as the UN Economic and Social Committee (ECOSOC).
JRS also contributes to refugee research at the University of Oxford. At Oxford, the 'Pedro Arrupe Tutor' overseas research undertaken in the name of JRS as well as facilitating the training of JRS personnel. The main tasks of the tutorship include conducting research, teaching and consultancy regarding refugees and forced migration for church agencies, NGOs and governments.
The Jesuit Refugee Service is an apostolic work of the Society of Jesus. For more than 460 years Jesuit priests and brothers have served the Church in new and unexpected ways. Men on the move, ready to change residence, occupation, approach – whatever is necessary to advance the Church’s mission: teaching the word of Jesus Christ and preaching his Good News – a radical service of faith in a world that respects neither faith nor the justice it entreats.
Today, Jesuits have enhanced their cooperation to include men and women who share this vision of service to faith and justice. And this exchange has expanded to include dialogue with other religions and cultures. One of the most notable examples of this cooperation is the Jesuit Refugee Service. For more information about the Jesuits (Society of Jesus) click here.