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USA: Jesuit Refugee Service Jordan Director to visit schools and parishes
28 February 2013

Colin Gilbert, the JRS Jordan Director with two Somali refugees in the school courtyard in Amman. (Peter Balleis/JRS)
As the Syrian crisis unfolded we began accompanying Syrians and providing emergency assistance in Amman and the north of Jordan.
Washington DC, 27 February 2013 – Jesuit Refugee Service Jordan Director Colin Gilbert will visit various Jesuit high schools, universities and parishes throughout the United States next month.

Mr Gilbert, a native of Phoenix, Arizonia, was teaching at a Jesuit high school in Southern California when news reports from the Middle East moved him to examine how he could help others.

"I had never been so deeply struck by reading international news as a helpless population incurred such immense suffering", he said.

After visiting the West Bank several times, and studying Arabic, Mr Gilbert found himself in Jordan working for JRS in January of 2011.

"I found myself working with a team of predominantly Iraqi refugees who were offering non-formal education and emergency assistance to Iraqis in Amman. As the year progressed, we opened the doors of our education initiatives to Sudanese and Somali refugees, for whom there was very little international assistance. As the Syrian crisis unfolded we began accompanying Syrians and providing emergency assistance in Amman and the north of Jordan", he continued.

Mr Gilbert begins his visit to the US on 11 March in Phoenix, Arizonia, at Brophy College Preparatory, and will wrap up his trip on 3 April at Loyola Parish in Denver. Other stops include Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles, the University of San Francisco, Regis University in Denver and Georgetown University in Washington DC.

The schedule of his presentation, Accompanying Refugees During Times of Crisis in the Middle East: How Jesuit Refugee Service is Responding to the Unfolding Emergency, is available on the JRS USA website.

"Each day we come across people whose homes have been destroyed, whose siblings have been tortured and killed, whose education has been interrupted due to their school being bombed, whose children are getting sick because of lack of access to warm blankets", Mr Gilbert said.

"We can't meet all their needs and it is frustrating. We can and will continue to be with people and accompany them in times of suffering. As war rages in Syria, violence increases in Iraq, and Somalia and Darfur remain unsafe, we will continue to walk with refugees in Jordan and attempt to provide hope to their highly uncertain futures".

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James Stapleton
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