view all campaigns
Syria: daily life a struggle to survive Iraq: Hairdressing offers hope Jordan: A ray of hope Jordan: an arduous and perilous journey to safety Jordan: caught between memories of the past and the reality of today Jordan: Dreaming a future in a foreign land Jordan: dreaming of an open Syria Jordan: eat dust here or die in Syria Jordan: online education, harnessing the skills of refugees Jordan: refugees helping refugees JRS Middle East Director visits US Lebanon: a cup of tea in the snow Lebanon: before and after displacement, through a Syrian child's eyes Lebanon: Finding home in a new place Lebanon: keeping a special spirit alive Lebanon: language barriers prevent Syrian children from attending school Lebanon: refugee children counting on school Lebanon: Running with friends again Lebanon: School allows students to dream of the future Lebanon: Syrian children need more than a traditional education Lebanon: Syrian families flee to protect their children Lebanon: xenophobia against Syrians in public schools Middle East: protection of Syrian civilians must be world's priority Prayer for Syria: blessed are the peacemakers Six years on, Syrian people share stories of hope for the future Syria: amidst upheaval, the scope of services expands Syria: between fear of violence and the struggle to survive Syria: bread and fuel shortages in Aleppo add to daily woes Syria: bringing families together Syria: cries for peace Syria: dialogue is the solution, not war Syria: displaced Syrians struggle to find shelter Syria: encouraging internally displaced persons to be involved in emergency assistance Syria: enduring spirit remains despite the rubble Syria: examining the role of women from a humanitarian perspective in response to conflict Syria: Finding community at the Alberto Hurtado Centre Syria: holding onto normality in Aleppo Syria: humanitarian situation in the region deteriorating rapidly Syria: in conflict, persecution affects Muslims and Christians alike Syria: Iraqi refugees on the sidelines of yet another conflict Syria: JRS calls for safe passage and security to all civilian population in Aleppo Syria: JRS condemns every form of violence Syria: JRS expands emergency support in Aleppo Syria: JRS serves displaced in Aleppo - UPDATE 20 December 2016 Syria: Laila, art is in her heart Syria: Laila, art is in her heart Syria: Laila, art is in her heart Syria: let this fourth anniversary of the war be the last Syria: local networks of solidarity and JRS helping displaced families Syria: refugee finds his life's purpose at Al Mukhales Centre Syria: resilience and hope Syria: Shattered dreams but embers of hope Syria: thousands displaced after upsurge in violence in Sheikh Maqsoud Syria: turning pain into their most powerful weapon Syria: two years of conflict threaten children's education and well-being Syria: update on JRS emergency assistance SYRIA: Update on situation in Damascus Syria: urgent need for winter supplies Syria: violence in Damascus fuels hopelessness, fear Syria: volunteers are essential to the work of JRS Syria: water, the simplest gift of all Syria: why people flee and why they need protection Syria: work of Jesuit community recognised by German human rights foundation Syria: working under principles of neutrality, non-violence and inclusiveness USA: the Jesuit Refugee Service stands with Syria Voices of Europe unite to help Syrian refugees

Working in some of the most dangerous areas in Syria, we see the reality of daily life, and the extraordinary suffering of ordinary civilians. The failure of the international community to agree on an inclusive solution and its inability to respond to the plight of Syrians has served to deepen the crisis, said JRS Middle East and North Africa Director Nawras Sammour SJ.
press release

Respect for difference needs to be guaranteed in the new Syria

Beirut, Rome, Washington DC, 1 February 2013, 1 February 2013 – With the recent escalation of violence and ongoing shortages of food and other basic commodities, the Jesuit Refugee Service urges the international community to prioritise the humanitarian needs of the civilian population in Syria and neighbouring Jordan and Lebanon. It is absolutely essential that increased emergency support is directed towards organisations on the ground that both provide life sustaining aid to rising numbers of displaced persons and also promote cooperation across the ethnic and religious divide.

Wednesday, at a conference in Kuwait, international donors pledged 1.5 billion US dollars towards meeting humanitarian assistance needs of those affected by the political and military crisis in Syria. While it is excellent news that the total pledged exceeded the expected 1 billion US dollars cost of assistance from January to June, there is no guarantee that this money will arrive in a timely fashion, or in the full amounts pledged.

"Working in some of the most dangerous areas in Syria, we see the reality of daily life, and the extraordinary suffering of ordinary civilians. The failure of the international community to agree on an inclusive solution and its inability to respond to the plight of Syrians has served to deepen the crisis", said JRS Middle East and North Africa Director Nawras Sammour SJ.

"More than four million Syrians are now in need of urgent assistance. In addition, the onset of winter has brought heavy rainfall, flooding and snow, wreaking havoc on emergency relief efforts. Despite the efforts of many organisations and communities, greater support is needed", said Fr Sammour.

Food remains the most urgent need, especially in Syria where more than two and a half million people are displaced and there are acute food shortages. The need for shelter is growing for those who have become homeless due to the conflict’s destruction. Healthcare support is vital, especially for those with chronic or terminal diseases who need medication or treatment. The resources available to patients in hospitals are dwindling, yet the number of patients has overwhelming grown.

Syrians who have lost their documentation are unable to register as refugees in neighbouring countries. There are increasing reports of Syrians being detained and denied access to legal assistance in neighbouring countries. JRS insists that the International Committee of the Red Cross be allowed access to these prisoners.

Contrary to simplified government and media reports, the conflict is not sectarian in nature. In general, Christians have not been directly targeted in this conflict. Like the majority of Syrians, they have been victims of circumstances. If this sectarian perspective is given credence, it lessens the ability of organisations like the Jesuit Refugee Service to truly help those in need, irrespective of their religious affiliation.

However, the longer the conflict drags on and the more influential observers seek solutions within this ethnic-religious prism, the greater the risk of a slide towards tit-for-tat sectarianism. This approach only serves to provide short-term solutions that ultimately will not help the reconstruction of Syria as a multi-religious and pluralistic society. A solution considering all the underlying factors to the conflict, and work towards the best possible outcome for all, must be pursued.

For further information contact
  • Zerene Haddad, JRS Middle East and North Africa Communications Officer; tel.: +961 712 73136;;
  • Christian Fuchs, JRS USA Communications Director; tel.: +1 202.629.5946;;
  • James Stapleton, JRS International Communications Coordinator, tel.: +39 346 234 3841
Notes to the editor
JRS Middle East and North Africa has been present in the Middle East since 2008. With projects in Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, JRS regionally serves the needs of diverse refugee and asylum seeker communities who come from Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Somali, Iran and Syria.

As the region becomes engulfed by the humanitarian crisis arising from Syria’s conflict, JRS is responding with emergency relief in the form of blankets, mattresses, winter shoes and clothes, food baskets and hot meals, basic medicine, shelter where possible and educational and psychosocial support. Across the region, more than 50,000 families have received support from JRS in 2012. Emergency assistance is being conducted in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, whilst normal projects to existing refugee communities continue in Turkey and Jordan.

JRS worldwide
JRS works in more than 50 countries around the world. The organisation employs over 1,200 staff: lay, Jesuits and other religious to meet the education, health, social and other needs of approximately 700,000 refugees and IDPs, more than half of whom are women. Its services are provided to refugees regardless of race, ethnic origin or religious beliefs.