In Syria, more than 12 million persons — more than half of the entire population of the country — are in serious jeopardy due to the ongoing conflict in Syria. Humanitarian access to war affected populations within Syria is an urgent issue, while the inability to provide adequate assistance to meet the basic needs of refugees and host populations in Lebanon, Jordan and other countries of first asylum is a growing threat to both the protection of vulnerable people and the stability and security of the region.
The daily experience of JRS teams in Syria and Iraq, providing relief, education and psychosocial services to conflict-affected communities, embodies a culture of encounter and fosters dialogue. Equally importantly, it plants seeds of reconciliation among communities.
"We see parents of different backgrounds coming together at our centres. Their children play together, building trust among themselves and leaving the ghosts of war and violence behind. Encouraged by the actions of their children, overcoming hesitation and diffidence, parents seek renewed dialogues among themselves," said JRS Syria Director, Nawras Sammour SJ.
Civilians in besieged areas are denied access to food, medical provisions or basic amenities. Malnutrition rates are growing and the risk of starvation is real, with some people living on only olives and lentils. Humanitarian personnel should be permitted to enter these areas immediately, while those civilians who wish to leave should be allowed to do so in safety.
Notwithstanding the risks to their lives, tens of thousands of Syrians across religious, ethnic and economic divides have continuously promoted harmony, reaching out to build 'a culture of encounter and dialogue'. This is the silent majority of Syrians who reject violence. Inter-religious dialogue remains an integral part of JRS daily activities, serving all marginalised groups – Sunnis, Shi'a (including Alawites), Druze and Christians alike.
By and large, the international community has not adequately supported Syrian groups engaged in humanitarian initiatives, a process that needs to be reversed.
In Damascus, Homs and Aleppo, JRS teams provide most vulnerable people with emergency humanitarian assistance including:
- educational and psychosocial activities;
- food and other material necessities;
- rent support; and
- basic healthcare services (clinic and referrals).
As part of process of finding a political solution to the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, religious and political leaders in the region should promote dialogue and education that fosters mutual understanding among the ethnic, national and faith communities, rather than the manipulation of diversity to encourage violence.
In addition to the delivery of services to refugees, JRS has a distinct way of working with families, building strong relationships based on trust and fairness. Accompaniment, one of the pillars of JRS work, is embodied in recurrent family visits, which are at the heart of every JRS project across the region. Through the visits, JRS teams identify and address the most urgent needs of the families.
Middle East and North Africa
Cedric Prakash SJ
The conflict in Syria has displaced more than 12 million people – 3.8 million to neighbouring countries – and resulted in more than 220,000 deaths. More than half of the Syrian population are in need of assistance. Approximately 242,000 Syrians currently live in areas besieged by the government or opposition forces.
In Iraq, 1.5 million have been internally displaced following the expansion of ISIS in 2014. In Ankawa and Ozal, JRS serves displaced families through home visits, psychosocial support and education. Diverse JRS work with Yazidis, Muslim and Christian Iraqis who are seeking safety in and around Erbil, northern Iraq.
Working in cooperation with Jesuit networks, Muslim and other Christian entities, and secular organisations, JRS teams ensure civilians receive much needed support; however, this assistance is not sufficient to meet the escalating needs.
In total, JRS serves more than 490,000 people in Syria and Iraq. JRS teams also work in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey providing urgent assistance and educational and psychosocial support to different refugee and internally displaced communities.
Syria: What if I had to flee?
Rome, 12 June 2017 - Prior to the conflict, my family and I were involved in private businesses including a printing house, a woven label factory, agricultural products manufacturing, and clothing. When the crisis started in 2012, I decided I needed to do something.
Jordan: Love walking in the rain
Amman, 16 February 2017 - Amman, the capital of Jordan, is a wonderful city complete with history, tradition and modernity. Amman, however on a very cold and rainy day is not the most exciting place to be. Above all, since Amman is built on hills (jabal) and has several valleys (wadi), walking from one house to another, is certainly not something that one easily relishes.
Syria: Limited access to basic resources affects the population
24 January 2017 - The winter in Syria continues to be rather harsh. The displaced, without sufficient access to appropriate lodging and heating, continue to suffer. Essential commodities are not easily available; and whenever they are, the prices are astronomical.
Syria: JRS staff stand together in serving the displaced
Beirut, 22 November 2016 - The war in Syria has grabbed world headlines for almost six years now. The violence has killed and wounded thousands. Millions have been made homeless: most of them as IDPs in Syria or having to seek refuge in another country. Many towns and cities of Syria are destroyed beyond recognition.
ALEPPO, SYRIA SITUATION UPDATE (6 May 2016)
Jesuit Refugee Service Syria (JRS) resumed its activities yesterday (5 May 2016) in Aleppo, Syria after a two-day suspension due to the severity of unrest in Aleppo. A partial, truce was declared mid-day Thursday (5 May 2016) by various warring factions for 48 hours.
Democratic Republic of Congo
United States of America
Central African Republic