03 October 2017
Rome, 3 October 2017 – According to figures published in the latest annual report, the Jesuit Refugee Service reached more than 733,400 refugees and forcibly displaced people in 2016, operating in 51 countries worldwide, a slight increase compared to the previous year.
Emergency relief comprises the largest portion (37 percent) of services provided by JRS, with more than 250,000 people served. As the conflict in Syria marked its sixth year, delivering humanitarian aid to the war-affected population remained an urgent issue. JRS is among the few organisations that have stayed over the course of the years, with a presence in Homs, Aleppo and Damascus. The field kitchen in Aleppo alone provides up to 8,000 meals a day.
In European countries that became border and transit points along the Balkan route, namely Greece, Macedonia, Croatia, and Hungary, JRS joined other NGOs and UN agencies to offer emergency aid to refugees at seaports, and bus and train stations. When borders along the route were closed in March 2016, JRS Greece opened a second shelter and distributed clothes, food and other essential items to those impacted.
The second largest portion of JRS’s intervention was psychosocial support (31 percent). These types of programmes help populations recover and heal from past trauma. JRS counselling, therapy, and sports activities helped over 226,400 refugees heal from trauma and recover from despair.
“JRS sees our world as Saint Ignatius did: love is shown in deeds rather than words. We accompany those in the trauma of war and flight. We serve these women and men by helping them to heal, learn and thrive. We help our brothers and sisters raise their voices, countering fear and anxiety about refugees with stories of dialogue, hope, and resilience,” says Fr Thomas H Smolich, JRS International Director.
With the year-long Mercy in Motion campaign inspired by Pope Francis’s Year of Mercy, 2016 has also seen the confirmation of JRS’s long commitment to refugee education as a durable solution. The initiative was launched to support the Global Education Initiative (GEI), JRS’s ambitious plan to raise USD $35 million to educate 100,000 more refugees by 2020.
As part of the GEI, throughout 2016 JRS has been able to develop a comprehensive teacher training programme, which contains child protection, educational psychology, up-to-date teaching methodologies, and inclusive education as its core content. In addition, JRS hired three educational coordinators to implement and support educational projects in Middle East and Africa. In Europe, a core GEI strategy provided language and vocational training skills to integrate refugees into local communities, increasing their access to employment.
Overall, JRS reached more than 155,800 children, young people and adults in 2016, in programmes spanning from kindergarten to university, as well as special education, adult literacy, teacher training, and school reconstruction. Furthermore, JRS provided job training and tools, made loans available and helped set up small businesses.
Access to education empowers refugees to fulfil their own potential and, in turn, contribute to the growth, strength, and stability of their communities. JRS helps refugees restore their dignity, integrate locally, and support themselves.
More results of the Global Education Initiative will be seen moving forward.
– Martina Bezzini , JRS Communications Officer