JRS has two areas of focus in this region: the Colombian civil war and the plight of the Haitian people. Serving Colombian IDPs as well as refugees in three neighbouring countries, JRS is present not in camps but mostly in border areas and in city suburbs, where people displaced by violence in rural areas live in exclusion. The work among the Haitian people takes place on the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, in Santo Domingo, and, since 2010, in camps of earthquake survivors in Port-au-Prince.
JRS has been present in Latin America since the early 80s, long before it started to reach out to people displaced by these two humanitarian crises. The JRS commitment in this region developed in 1982 among Salvadoran refugees in Honduras, and, in 1984, in El Salvador itself. JRS stayed in this country for nearly 10 years before handing over to the local Jesuit Development Service. Another important intervention was among Guatemalan refugees in Mexico, from 1991 to 1997.
Attention began to shift to present-day concerns in the early 90s. Present in Colombia from 1994 onwards, JRS serves in places badly affected by the violence: Soacha, a suburb of Bogota; Magdalena Medio; Valle del Cauca and, since 2010, North Santander. Apart from the civil conflict, a growing challenge in Colombia is increased displacement due to the development of mega-projects and mining corporations, which are uprooting communities from their ancestral lands. The emphasis of JRS in Colombia is to build communities where people can live in peace and dignity. Diverse activities include livelihood programmes, counselling, human rights training, and awareness-raising.
In neighbouring Venezuela, Panama and Ecuador, JRS supports Colombian refugees, offering a range of services that includes legal and psychosocial support, educational and livelihood programmes, and aid to meet basic needs, where needed. There is an emphasis on local integration, working with host communities to welcome the refugees.
The mission among the Haitian people dates back to the early 90s and deals with different albeit pressing displacement issues. The defence of Haitian migrants, who live a precarious and right-less existence in the Dominican Republic, has long been the focal point of JRS intervention. Before the 2010 Haiti quake, it was estimated that there were between 500,000 to 800,000 Haitians in the Dominican Republic. JRS intervenes through a national project entitled Solidaridad Fronteriza (Border Solidarity), and is also part of a network lobbying for the right to citizenship for Haitians born in the Dominican Republic.
The earthquake that struck Haiti on 12 January 2010 led to a new dimension of JRS work. JRS initially delivered emergency aid and, in March 2010, opened an office in Port-au-Prince and focused its intervention of pastoral and psychosocial accompaniment in seven camps of quake survivors located in three sectors of Port-au-Prince.
Jesuit Refugee Service
Office of International Communications
The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) is an international Catholic organisation with a mission to accompany, serve and defend the rights 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 2013, nearly 950,000 individuals were direct beneficiaries of JRS projects.
Latin America: Civil society organisations demand a regional agreement for better protection of Venezuelan migrants
Santo Domingo, 16 May 2018 – Civil society organisations, including JRS LAC and JRS Colombia, held an audience before the IACHR to request better assistance for states in the region to address the Venezuelan migrant crisis.
Latin America: Regional declaration regarding the situation of the Venezuelan migrant population
Bogota, 28 August 2017 - Venezuela is now experiencing one of the most difficult moments in its recent history, not only politically, but also economically, and socially.
Latin America: education is essential for the development of the person and the community
Bogota, 8 May 2017 - For the commemoration of Global Action Week for Education, the JRS in Latin America and the Caribbean shares its stance on the importance of the right to education for refugees and displaced persons in the countries in which it is present, as well as on the obstacles encountered in enjoying that right.
Latin America: No more children in war
Bogotá, 23 February 2017 - The Jesuit Refugee Service, in its mission to "Accompany, serve and advocate for" the victims of forced displacement in Colombia and for refuge-seekers in Venezuela, Ecuador and Mexico, calls for a greater awareness of the alarming situation of children and young people in border areas and for guarantees from Governments that they will be duly protected from any involvement, recruitment and violence in these areas.
Una Mirada sobre el Desplazamiento forzado y el Refugio en América Latina
Mensaje de hospitalidad del Papa Francisco a la Iglesia: “Que los conventos sean lugares de acogida”
Panamá: Aprobación del proyecto de ley para otorgar residencia permanente a refugiados
La Semana por la Paz: Una llama de esperanza en medio de la guerra
Inicio del encuentro regional de comunicación e incidencia del SJR LAC
Informe del SJR en Panamá sobre estado de los derechos humanos de las personas solicitantes de asilo y refugiadas
Plan estratégico 2012-2015: Construir el futuro mediante una acción de calidad.
Presentación Memoria Regional del SJR LAC: “Hacia una nueva visión de las fronteras en América Latina”
Democratic Republic of Congo
United States of America
Central African Republic