The cornerstone of the JRS mission is to offer holistic human services to forcibly displaced persons. All the subsidies in the world will never be able to replace the warmth of assistance rendered by one individual human being to another. JRS recognises the human dignity in refugees through its accompaniment.

It is this direct and personal approach of individual interaction and cooperation with refugees which mutually empowers refugees and JRS personnel alike. It is through providing accompaniment to refugees, touched by their reality in camps, conflict zones, detention centres or wherever else they may be, that JRS staff understand how best to serve and advocate on their behalf.

"Our close and direct contact with people, our presence with them... lets us understand their real needs", said Fr Bernard Arputhasamy SJ, former JRS Asia Pacific Director.

To accompany means to be a companion. We are companions of Jesus, so we wish to be companions of those with whom he preferred to be associated, the poor and the outcast. It is practical and effective action. Not infrequently, accompaniment is a way of offering protection, and 'internationalising' a situation. The presence of an international team can sometimes prevent attacks on refugees. Moreover, presence can be a sign, that a free person chooses willingly and faithfully to accompany those who are not free, who have no choice about being there. This, is itself a sign, a way of eliciting hope.

Our accompaniment affirms that God is present in human history, even in its most tragic episodes. We experience this presence. God does not abandon us. As pastoral workers, we focus on this vision, and are not side-tracked by political manoeuvrings and ethnic divisions, whether among refugees or among the agencies and governments who decide their fate.

  • Accompaniment in detention
  • Out of sight, out of mind
Accompaniment in detention

"Please remember us." Taka Gani still recalls the words that a young detainee told her at the end of her first visit to an immigration detention centre in Indonesia. She could not know it then but this plea marked the beginning of a long friendship. Taka reflects on the challenges she experienced, as well as the wisdom she gained, from accompanying Donya, a Hazara man from Afghanistan, and other asylum seekers throughout their stay in detention. Full Article>>
Out of sight, out of mind

Sr Inés Oleaga draws on her experience of working with JRS in East Timor and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to show that accompanying refugees can be a very practical way of protecting them and of showing them that they have not been forgotten by all. "We are like a bridge over the abyss that separates the people from the world that decides, at least partly, what will happen to them," she writes. "When we witness what happens and tell the world what we have seen, others may be touched by what they can see through our eyes." Full Article>>