JRS started working in the town of Mellit, North Darfur in 2006 to address the educational needs of internally displaced persons (IDPs) fleeing the Darfur conflict as well as recent returnees and members of the host community. In particular, JRS seeks to meet the overwhelming needs of IDP women living in protracted displacement.
The influx of refugees into Mellit – home to 150,000 people – has overstretched the already limited amenities of health, education, water and sanitation. JRS addresses this shortfall by providing a range of educational services for IDPs, as well as the construction of water storage facilities.
In cooperation with the Ministry of Education, JRS supports 24 primary schools and ten nursery schools through the construction and restoration of school buildings and provision of water storage units. In addition, JRS provides ongoing teacher training and support to school management teams and community organisations.
JRS also supervises 17 adult literacy centres and three vocational training centres in the area. Displaced persons can learn tailoring, embroidery and knitting, and food and nutrition. Families who have had limited exposure to educational services, have stated that they are now committed to ensuring both their children and themselves have a minimum of basic education.
Thanks to the support of current donors, the Burpham Sudan Fund, Kindermissionswerk Fund for Women, Misean Cara and Misereor, JRS supported the educational needs of 2,300 people in Darfur in 2015.
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In Eastern Africa, home to large refugee populations, JRS is active in camps, cities and areas of return in four countries. In the capitals of Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda, JRS feels increasingly called to help urban refugees, whose predicament poses huge challenges in terms of numbers, poor living conditions and risks faced. At the same time, JRS carries on its long-standing commitments; one is to accompany the Southern Sudanese as they rebuild their country, with education projects reaching some 55,000 people. And in a region vulnerable not only to manmade but also natural disaster, JRS recently set up a project in camps in Dollo Ado, Ethiopia, responding to Somali refugees who fled drought and hunger in 2011.
This new work is reminiscent of the beginnings of JRS in the region; one of our earliest commitments was in Ethiopia, assisting thousands of people displaced by war and famine. The presence of JRS quickly spread across Eastern Africa, where a JRS region was established in 1990. There was no shortage of work. In the 90s, JRS responded to the needs to refugees flowing out of Sudan and escaping genocide and wars in the neighbouring Great Lakes region, among others. The education programme in Uganda – where JRS went in 1993 – would become one of the largest ever of JRS.
As peace dawned in southern Sudan and northern Uganda, JRS adapted its projects to respond in the best possible way to the needs created by changing circumstances. When Sudanese refugees returned home, JRS expanded its work in southern Sudan to embrace returnees as well as IDPs – large education projects are under way, pastoral care and peace-building. JRS also offers adult literacy classes in Mellit, Darfur. And in northern Uganda, JRS now accompanies people returning to their villages after years of internal displacement due to the conflict between the army and the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). Reconciliation plays a key role in this work.
Elsewhere, in countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia and Eritrea, chronic conflicts, persecution or drought continue to push thousands of people to flee. Many refugee camps are overcrowded, and more and more asylum seekers are heading for cities – in Nairobi alone, there are 100,000 refugees – where they constantly face protection risks and poor living conditions.
JRS has well-established projects in Nairobi, Kampala and Addis Ababa, welcoming urban refugees and offering language classes and other educational and recreational initiatives, income-generating activities, emergency aid, legal and social services.
For several years, JRS has run projects in Kakuma camp, north-western Kenya, focusing on education, counselling, and care for people with special needs and survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. In 2010, Kakuma became one of the pilot sites for an exciting distance-education project launched by JRS in partnership with Jesuit universities in the US.
In 2010 and 2011, JRS started working in two other camp settings, both in Ethiopia: Mai-Aini camp for Eritrean refugees, and the camps at Dollo Ado, mentioned above.
Sudan: JRS mission in Darfur ends
Darfur, 2 May 2018 - After 13 years serving the people of Darfur, Sudan, in areas of education recovery and reconstruction, JRS officially closed its operations there on 31 March 2018 at a ceremony during which the project was handed over to the government. JRS leaves behind a legacy of dedicated service to the community whose hospitality and participation it is deeply grateful for.
Sudan: JRS International director visits Darfur
Mellit, 19 August 2009 — JRS Sudan hosted a visit from JRS International Director Fr. Peter Balleis SJ, and Regional Director Fr. Frido Pflueger SJ from August 19-26, 2009. It was Fr. Balleis’ first visit since he took up his position in Rome.
Sudan: JRS trains 120 teachers in Darfur
Mellit, 1 December 2008 — JRS concluded an in-service training for 120 adult literacy teachers of which 17 percent were women in Mellit, North Darfur.
Democratic Republic of Congo
United States of America
Central African Republic