In Europe, JRS is chiefly concerned about immigration detention and
forcibly displaced people who face destitution. With national policies
throughout the region prescribing the detention of undocumented
arrivals, stringent asylum laws and practices, and a hostile reception
to asylum seekers as likely as not, JRS offices in Europe have their
work cut out for them. There are 14 national offices as well as contact
persons in another seven countries.
Although JRS Europe was
officially established as a region only in 1994, Jesuits had been
reaching out to refugees across the continent long before that. One of
the very first projects set up by JRS, in 1981, was Centro Astalli in
Rome. The first Jesuit charged with the international coordination of
JRS, Michael Campbell-Johnston SJ, recalls: "We recognised a severe
refugee problem with Eritrean and Somali refugees right on our own
doorstep in Rome. So we set up Centro Astalli to provide food and
shelter, in the basement of the same building where St Ignatius and his
companions had helped the victims on the famine in 1538." Centro Astalli
continues its work today, serving hundreds of refugees.
from offering support in the community, JRS teams started to work in
immigration detention from early on. Today, JRS teams in Belgium,
Germany, Ireland, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden, Romania, the United
Kingdom, and in the western Balkans regularly visit detention centres
to offer psychosocial, pastoral and legal support. In most of these
places, and in France and Italy, services are also provided in the
community, including food, lodging, social services, healthcare, legal
aid, language and computer courses and help to find work.
is another pressing concern. In 2008, JRS expanded to accompany asylum
seekers who are stuck on the external borders of the EU, unable to reach
Europe. Projects were set up in Morocco and Ukraine: a kindergarten and
safe place for women in Casablanca and safe accommodation and legal
counselling in Lviv, western Ukraine.
In Brussels, the JRS Europe
office is active in advocacy at EU level, monitoring and analysing laws
on asylum and migration, coordinating regional research, and taking
every opportunity to connect refugees’ experiences to policymaking.
As part of the Advocacy Network for Destitute Forced Migrants (ANDES), in 2010, JRS published a report, Living in Limbo
on forced migrant destitution in 12 EU countries plus Ukraine. The
research reveals that destitution is a European-wide problem often
caused by state policies that aim to exclude large categories of
migrants from society.
The year 2010 was also marked with the
completion of research on vulnerability in detention. The conclusion is
that detention is a very negative measure that increases everyone’s
susceptibility to further harm, not only persons with officially
recognised vulnerabilities but otherwise healthy persons as well.
+32 2 554 02 20
JRS Europe is one of 10 geographic regions of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), an international Catholic organization sponsored by the Society of Jesus. The regional office serves refugee and other displaced persons in more than 14 countries in Europe. Services include: offering support to asylum seekers in detention; giving legal advice to asylum seekers and irregular migrants; counselling to those traumatised by persecution and flight; serving as chaplains in open reception or accommodation centres, as well as, in closed facilities or premises (detention); and providing food and shelter to destitute migrants.
Italy: The security decree that makes everyone more insecure
Brussels, 25 September 2018 – JRS Italy (Centro Astalli) is concerned about the effects that the new measures introduced by the 'Salvini decree' on migration and security - unanimously approved on the 24th of September by the Italian Council of Ministers - will have on the lives of migrants and on the social cohesion of the whole country.
Conditions at Moria are “shameful
19 NGOs decry conditions at the site, now worse than ever, and call for sustainable solutions to both decongest the islands and improve conditions across first receptions centres in North Aegean Sea.
Help is no crime: stand with volunteers against the criminalisation of solidarity
Brussels, 7 September 2018 – The arrest of Sarah Mardini and Seán Binder is the latest case of a worrying trend towards the criminalisation of solidarity in Europe. The two volunteers were arrested by the Greek authorities on 21 August for helping refugees and migrants arriving by sea on Lesbos island. With this joint letter, European civil society organisations call on the Greek authorities to release Sarah and Sean while their trial is pending.
International Youth Day
Brussels, 12 August 2018 – On International Youth Day, JRS Europe draws attention to the situation of migrant and asylum seeking children and teenagers in detention in Europe.
Maya: A Refugee Mother on a Challenging Journey
Washington, D.C. 6 August 2018 – An hour north of Athens, in the town of Oinofyta, refugees many from Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan have been given shelter in an abandoned industrial warehouse. Jesuit Refugee Service Greece visits the camp weekly to provide an activity for children and identify those most in need of support. Last month, I had the opportunity to visit Oinofyta with JRS Greece.
Democratic Republic of Congo
United States of America
Central African Republic