Bangkok (Agenzia Fides) - For 35 years the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) has been active in the Asia-Pacific area to assist refugees and displaced persons in seven countries: Australia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, Timor East and Thailand. Currently JRS assists over 310,000 people in their basic needs but also in social development, in education and reintegration into society.
As recalled in a letter sent to Fides, in 1981 it was the then Superior General of the Jesuits, Pedro Arrupe, who started JRS Asia Pacific, especially starting from the needs of refugees in Thailand, activating a first team of religious and lay people. JRS started to help these refugees to face an uncertain future, especially by offering educational services: this is the main objective of JRS, which is committed to helping the most vulnerable groups, involved in natural disasters and mass movements, to improve their living conditions through offering vocational formation and small grants.
To cope with the growing phenomenon of "urban refugees" - who often live in poverty, without basic services - JRS organizes support groups, psycho-social counseling services and legal services. In Australia and Thailand, JRS accompanies refugees and asylum seekers in detention centers for immigrants, offering medical and legal assistance. Training services are provided to Burmese migrants and refugees in Thailand, while in the Philippines and East Timor, JRS works with people displaced by the conflict, offering assistance to those seeking to reintegrate into the community.
In Indonesia, after 2004, JRS began providing training services, workshops on conflict resolution and reconciliation, and assistance on early warning procedures. (PA) (01/07/2016)