Present in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) since 1995, Jesuit Refugee Service’s (JRS) interventions in North and South Kivu provinces have focused on education, psychosocial support, livelihood training, and humanitarian assistance.
Two decades of conflict and instability have left eastern DRC with a weakened infrastructure and poor social services. Armed groups continue to roam the region, fuelled by local and regional issues of identity, poverty, land conflict, and corrupt governance. Ongoing insecurity, particularly in rural areas, continues to prevent internally displaced persons (IDPs) from returning home in safety. Currently, there are more than 2.7 million IDPs in the country, living in a mix of official and unofficial camps, as well as with host families.
Over 20 years of conflict has created a crisis that rarely drops below levels of acute need. IDPS in Congo suffer from multiple displacement, meaning over 35 per cent of children have fled their homes more than three times, and 60 per cent of families need food aid just to get by. In this situation all are vulnerable, and it is difficult to see the difference between IDPs and host communities.
JRS provides quality formal and informal education for internally displaced persons (IDP) in camps surrounding Goma, Masisi and Mweso. School and vocational programs give structure and normalcy to lives disrupted by war, providing space to recover from past trauma. JRS pays 50 per cent of the school fees for displaced students who meet defined vulnerability criteria; parents are then encouraged to pay the other half.
Those families who are unable to afford the remaining fees are given priority for enrolment in JRS vocational and literary programs, where they acquire the skills necessary to earn a living in the future. In addition, JRS provides emergency assistance such as clothing, shelter, and food to those in the most vulnerable circumstances.
JRS also sponsors extracurricular activities such as sports, films, and traditional dance to help children from both host and camp communities interact peacefully and find common ground.
Furthermore, in and out of the camps, sensitization activities are held to promote adult psychosocial welfare and social integration between autochthones local and internal displace persons.
The consistent presence of JRS in the camps allows the organization to identify those most in need, including unaccompanied minors, child-headed households, expectant mothers, persons with disabilities, and the elderly. Regular visits with displaced families allow JRS to further understand the difficulties of each displaced person and give necessary service referrals, making our programs truly responsive to the community's needs.
Great Lakes Africa
+257 78 991 302
JRS Great Lakes Africa is one of 10 geographic regions of the Jesuit Refugee Service, an international Catholic organization sponsored by the Society of Jesus. The regional office coordinates the delivery of education, housing, psychosocial and recreational services, as well emergency assistance and support to become self-sufficient, to vulnerable refugee and other displaced populations in Tanzania, Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo.
Red Hand Day: education provides children an alternative to joining armed groups
(Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo) February 12, 2015 — International Red Hand Day aims to raise awareness of the plight of child soldiers all around the world. While Jesuit Refugee Service commends the steps taken by the Congolese government to end the recruitment of child soldiers, more steps need to be taken to provide educational and socio-economic alternatives for displaced children in camps.
Bleak refugee camp life leads children to join armed groups
(Mweso) January 20, 2015 — "I joined twice, because I had nothing to do," explains Pierre, a 17-year-old former child solider in the Democratic Republic of Congo. "The first time was in 2006. The recruiters in the camp promised me food, a job, and a military career. It didn't take much to get me to go into the bush and try my luck."
Democratic Republic of Congo: time to take strong measures to protect children from armed conflict
20 November 2014 – Twenty-five years after the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), ratified by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 1990, Child Soldiers International and the Jesuit Refugee Service remain concerned by widespread abuses committed against children by armed forces and armed groups. Although significant progress has been made to protect children from armed conflict in the DRC, there is still a long way to go to prevent the recruitment of children, improve assistance to former child soldiers, and end impunity.
Draft law will not keep conflict resources out of Europe, campaigners warn
London, 5 March 2014 – A law proposed by the European Commission on responsible sourcing of minerals is not strong enough to prevent European companies' mineral purchases from financing conflict or human rights abuses, and falls far short of expectations, campaigners said today.
Dem. Republic of Congo: entrepreneurial bicyclists
(Goma) February 27, 2014 — Trying to bring stability to displaced people in in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has become a major focus of Jesuit Refugee Service. One step in this direction has been to help people in Nzulo camp by providing microcredit to enable them to establish small business activities. Loans enable people to buy bikes they can use to transport coal, food and water to and from the camp.
Democratic Republic of Congo: entrepreneurs cycle to make a living
Goma, 26 February 2014 — Many people in eastern Congo move from camp to camp in search of safety. This repeated displacement disrupts lives, support networks and family ties. Access to the land is hindered, as is their ability to earn a living.
Democratic Republic of Congo: Jesuit Refugee Service team member killed
Masisi, 22 November 2013 – JRS staff member in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Yohana Bushu, was shot two weeks ago and died in hospital a few hours later.
Democratic Republic of Congo: child protection must be prioritised by the Intervention Brigade
London, 25 June 2013 – The imminent deployment of a UN "Intervention Brigade" in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) presents new opportunities to strengthen the protection of children against recruitment and prevent their use in hostilities. These opportunities should be identified and seized by the United Nations and the Congolese government as soon as possible.
Dem. Rep. of Congo: Prioritize child protection
(Rome) June 20, 2013 – Jesuit Refugee Service, Child Soldiers International and other non-governmental organizations are urging the UN and Congolese government to use the imminent deployment of a UN “Intervention Brigade” in the Democratic Republic of Congo to strengthen the protection of children against recruitment and prevent their use in hostilities.
Democratic Republic of Congo: unexploded ordnances in schools, students at risks
Goma, 27 March 2013 – Unexploded grenades, bullets and other unused munitions were found last month in sewage drains used by some schools in the North Kivu capital. For students in the area, school is not a place of protection, but a threat to their lives.
Forty-six leading Congolese and international NGOs welcome Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework, but call for further action to make peace a reality
Goma/Kinshasa/ Rome/ Washington DC, 24 February 2013 – A group of prominent Congolese and international NGOs today called on countries in the Great Lakes region, along with their international partners, to ensure that the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework Agreement signed in Addis Ababa is given the political backing necessary to bring an end to war in the eastern Congo.
Democratic Republic of Congo: call for a genuine peace process
Goma, 14 February 2013 – For years the international community has attempted to help stabilise eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), at the expense of billions of US dollars, yet sustainable peace remains elusive. Elections in November 2011 were widely seen as lacking credibility and provincial and local elections have been delayed indefinitely.
Dem. Rep. of Congo: call for a genuine peace process
(Goma) February 14, 2012 – For years the international community has attempted to help stabilize eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, at the expense of billions of dollars, yet sustainable peace remains elusive. At the end of 2012 more than 2.7 million people were estimated displaced in DRC, up from 1.7 million in 2011.
Dem. Rep. of Congo: school, the best deterrent against the recruitment of minors
(Goma) February 11, 2013 – For anyone who travels along the muddy and rugged roads of the eastern province of North Kivu, teenage boys clasping firearms is commonplace. Children are frequently the victims of forced recruitment in the ranks of one of the many armed groups in Congo.
Democratic Republic of Congo: local rebels sign historic peace agreement in Masisi
Masisi, 7 February 2013 – The Jesuit Refugee Service welcomes the peace agreement signed on 5 February 2013 by different armed groups to stop interethnic violence and bring peace in Masisi, in the mineral-rich North Kivu province. The agreement seeks to bring an end to inter-ethnic violence which has led to the death of 310 people since April 2012, the displacement of tens of thousands of others, and the destruction of villages and camps for displaced persons.
Democratic Republic of Congo
United States of America
Central African Republic