Urban Refugees: building communities of encounter

The traditional image of refugees living in sprawling rural camps no longer tells the true story of refugee movements. Most of the world's displaced persons (60 percent) now live in urban settings.

Urban refugees are often invisible and fall through the cracks of society. They constantly face protection risks and are often denied access to basic services, and exposed to unique social vulnerabilities. Barriers to integration for urban refugees are not just institutional or legal; access to successful local integration in urban settings in large part depends on how local host communities respond to the newcomers.

Joining Pope Francis’s call to promoting a culture of encounter, JRS considers the presence of urban refugees and asylum seekers an opportunity for human growth and works to create communities of companionship and encounter. Read more

Thailand: Education promotes resilience
Bangkok, 23 February 2018 – Imagine the sound of children playing and shouting in a school playground; the bell ringing when class is about to begin. For many asylum seekers and refugees in Bangkok, it has been a long time since they have heard these sounds.
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Jordan: Accompanying refugees in Amman
Amman, 19 February 2018 – Led by her passion for Middle Eastern culture and determination to foster relationships through language, Elizabeth Woods has truly made an impact on the lives of the refugees she serves in Jordan.
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Thailand: Through the lens of a refugee
Bangkok, 12 February 2018 – The story of Absame, an asylum seeker living in Bangkok, shows incredible bravery, resilience, and persistence. He embraced opportunities for education and utilised his perseverance and skills to find informal employment under extremely tough circumstances. Above all, he perseveres with the hope of a better future.
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Canada: Creating communities for Canadians and newcomers
Montréal, 5 January 2018 – Following the call in 1980 of Pedro Arrupe SJ, then Superior General of the Society of Jesus, to assist the Vietnamese boat people, the Jesuits of French Canada started to sponsor refugees.
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Italy: Dessert and dialogue in Rome
Rome, 2 January 2018 – When Andrea Riccardi invited me to join the Commission for “Religions, Culture, and Integration” in 2012, I did not know how to connect the experience of interreligious dialogue with the challenges of migrants and refugees in Italy.
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South Africa: Empowering women at JRS Arrupe Centres
Johannesburg, 22 December 2017 – In South Africa, host to one of the largest populations of urban refugees in the world, JRS runs two centres for women refugees and asylum seekers.
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Uganda: Peacebuilding brings together refugees and host communities
Adjumani, 19 December 2017 – “We need our community to transform and change to a peaceful community where there should be no violent conflict,” says Bosco Geri, a 28-year-old community leader in the Pagirinya, a refugee settlement in northern Uganda.
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Ethiopia: Confronting urban hardship
Addis Ababa, 12 December 2017 – The traditional image of refugees in sprawling rural settlements and camps no long accurately depicts the reality of today’s refugee situation. With more than half of the world’s refugees living in cities and urban areas, the refugee experience itself has changed in many ways.
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Ecuador: Blessed passage – stories of refuge
San Lorenzo, 7 December 2017 – Maria Dolores is Ecuadorian but lived in Cali, Colombia until the violence of armed conflict in the area intensified, forcing her to return to her home country.
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Colombia: Faces of urban displacement
Cúcuta, 4 December 2017 – Decades of internal armed conflict in Colombia have forcibly displaced thousands of people. Many of these internally displaced persons move to cities where jobs are hard to find, the potential for exploitation is high, and supporting one's self, let alone a family, is no easy task.
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