In West Africa, JRS is at work in two insecure countries: Chad and the Central African Republic. Going to Chad in 2004, JRS set up an impressive array of education projects in the east, which is prey to civil war and inter-ethnic tensions that are compounded by the spill-over of the Darfur conflict. In late 2008, JRS went the Central African Republic to offer services with a strong community element in two war-affected provinces, Ouham and Haute Kotto.
The education projects in Chad reach tens of thousands of children and teachers in Sudanese refugee camps, in settlements of internally displaced Chadians, among host communities, returnees and nomads. Apart from running pre-primary, primary and secondary schools, JRS seeks to set quality standards. There is also a programme for the reintegration of former child soldiers.
In the Central African Republic, IDPs and others benefit from education, social services, pastoral ministry, peace-building and advocacy. In September 2011, clashes between rebel groups in Haute Kotto forced JRS to withdraw temporarily.
JRS has been present in West Africa for years, responding to the needs of people forcibly displaced by conflicts in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire. JRS West Africa was established in 2001 with a project starting in Guinea in December, as the then Regional Director, Mateo Aguirre SJ, recalls: "We were very keen to start the first food distribution of rice and palm oil so that the refugees could have food on Christmas day". Projects serving IDPs in Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire followed in 2003. These were all places where JRS had worked in the past and where it felt called to return. The JRS intervention was characterised – as is often the case in other regions – by strong collaboration with the local Church, with the indispensable contribution of members of different religious congregations who worked in the camps.
As countries in the region edged towards peace, JRS accompanied the displaced people back home, got involved in reconstruction, and eventually withdrew from Guinea and Liberia. The JRS intervention in Côte d'Ivoire was extended, with a project running from 2008 to 2010, to work with village communities in the post-war north, to repair and improve their primary schools to welcome returnees.
Fr Eric Goeh-Akue SJ
+39 06 69 868 468
JRS West Africa is one of 10 geographic regions of the Jesuit Refugee Service, an international Catholic organisation sponsored by the Society of Jesus. The regional office in West Africa serves refugee and internally displaced people in Central African Republic (CAR), Chad and Côte d’Ivoire. Services include: education, skills training, vocational training and healthcare. JRS supports the redevelopment of war-torn communities in these areas, including the reconstruction of schools and the reintegration of former child soliders.
Chad: Meet Country Director, Alberto Martin Huertas
N'Djamena, 17 February 2017 - 2017 is a huge challenge for JRS Chad, we are expanding our activities in primary education to five more refugee camps in Farchana and Oure Cassoni. At the same time, this year is going to be our first experience implementing a Child Protection program. It is a big challenge, with a lot of work to do, but we are very passionate and it shows the confidence that our donors have in us.
Central African Republic: A never-ending, unknown war
Bambari, 8 February 2017 - For some months now in Bambari, we often hear about "Essential personnel/Non-essential personnel". These are new, surprising, human categories. They are dictated by specialists of the humanitarian world.
Central African Republic: Living in the factory
Bambari, 27 December 2017 - Some two hours from Bambari, the second largest town in the Central African Republic, a group of about 5000 workers in a sugar factory, fearing for their lives, have occupied the factory. Their homes are less than 2 kms away, but they had to leave them a few months ago, fleeing from machetes and burning houses and nobody dares return.
CAR: 'We do not understand this war'
Batouri, 29 November 2016 - "I still do not know why the war is going on in our country, the Central African Republic," says Haman, a refugee from CAR living in the Ketté area, Eastern Cameroon. Haman lives in the little town of Boubara with his wife and five sons.
Chad: Investing in girls education
Iriba, 11 October 2016 - In Chad, socio-cultural traditions and gender roles limit educational opportunities for refugee girls. Child marriage and forced marriage are widely practiced, causing many girls in secondary school to drop out early. Girls are also charged with domestic duties such as retrieving water, providing for the family, and taking care of children. These responsibilities along with societal and familial pressures lead to high dropout rates that are not seen amongst boys.
Democratic Republic of Congo
United States of America
Central African Republic