Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) is an international Catholic organisation with a mission to accompany, serve and advocate for the rights of refugees and others who are forcibly displaced.  

JRS Europe advocates for the respectful and fair treatment of all migrants affected by European policy, and defends their access to procedures that guarantee the basic rights enshrined in international law. A regional office based in Brussels advocates at European Union level and ensures that policymakers hear refugees’ voices.

The regional office also facilitates a network of JRS offices through common planning and project work. In 12 countries across Europe, as well as in Greece, Macedonia and Kosovo, JRS gives direct support to forced migrants and refugees, especially those who are forgotten and in most urgent need. JRS Europe has several projects to assist asylum seekers and other forced migrants in detention as well as community initiatives promoting hospitality and social inclusion. 

JRS Europe also works to foster a culture of openness, embodied by hospitality. This is one of our more urgent tasks because hospitality is a value that is being eroded in today’s world where many are so fearful of the 'other'. Writing to JRS on its 30th anniversary, the Jesuit Superior General, Fr Adolfo Nicolás SJ, said: "JRS, in serving refugees, is Gospel hospitality in action; but, perhaps, we can ask how we may, creatively, effectively and positively, influence the closed and unwelcoming values of the cultures in which we work."

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JRS Europe's Annual General Meeting. Brussels, 30 April 2019 – More than 50 JRS staff members from over 12 countries came together this April in Barcelona for JRS Europe’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), specially dedicated this year to the topic of integration in the city. “At JRS, we accompany people on arrival or that has been for some years in Europe; we accompany them learning languages, searching for a job, when they go to the doctor or when they enrol their children in the school. Cities are full of opportunities, but also of challenges for everybody: locals, migrants, asylum seekers and refugees,” reflected Jose Ignacio Garcia SJ, director of JRS Europe. The AGM has been a space to reflect on the challenges the city presents for our work and to share best practices on integration across Europe. Most importantly, we discussed about all those who live in our cities and whose irregular administrative situation obliges them to a life of destitution and vulnerability. The first day of exchanges included a discussion with migration academic experts who presented the theoretical framework on integration and valuable insights into the Spanish and Catalonian local context. Luis Rodriguez, from the University Institute of Studies on Migration (IUEM), presented the research project on Social Integration of Population of Immigrant Origin in Spain. Silvia Carrasco, from the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology of Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (UAB) discussed about the challenges and opportunities for the integration of immigrants in Catalonia and highlighted the importance of including both locals and migrants in any integration project to shape cities that foster co-existence and respect for the other. Finally, the panel session was closed by Xavier Alonso from the Generalitat de Catalunya, who addressed public integration policies in Catalonia.  On the second day, we learnt from our colleagues of Servicio Jesuita a Migrantes (SJM Spain) and Migra Studium more about concrete experiences in Barcelona. The Hospitality campaign, run by Migra Studium in Catalonia (Campaña Hospitalidad), is a key project that facilitates integration of migrants and refugees in the city by bringing locals and newcomers together. Sanja Rahim and Olga Correa, collaborating also with Migra Studium, referred to the difficulties that destitute and vulnerable people can face in the urban context of Barcelona. On the other hand, Kiran Khan from Migra Studium informed us about the newly launched Pakistan/Bengal trade dynamization programme running currently in the neighbourhoods Ravaland Gòtic that seeks to provide small and medium-sized entrepreneurs from various countries with advice on how to expand their business.  JRS staff members also had the opportunity visit some organizations working to promote the integration of migrants in Catalonian society:   - Migra Studium opened its doors and welcomed the participants in the very heart of the Gòtic quarter of Barcelona so that they could discover the three areas of its work: welcome services, reflection, cultural and religious diversity.  - Fundació Salut Alta works in the outskirts of Barcelona. Here the passion and the commitment of the team is incredible. Salud Alta develops and runs education projects with children, teenagers and their families to give them hope and help them build a safer neighbourhood that promotes coexistence and tolerance.  - Fundació La Vinya was created by three parishes in 1998 to support community actions. Nowadays, it works on non-formal education projects with children and their families, it gives accompaniment for adults in need, especially migrant women, and, additionally, it runs a food bank for families who need it.    The visits were extremely enriching. We are often part of cities which still do not include everyone in their life dynamics and evolution. Hence, today, our work as JRS on serving and accompanying is needed more than ever; so that we can shape all together cities that leave no one behind.  Based on our mission, we shall continue developing ways to improve the lives of people by providing them with all the necessary support in their day-to-day reality that helps them increase self-resilience and trust in themselves.     From the side of JRS Europe, we launched and presented to our JRS colleagues our new campaign ‘’The Power of Vote” aiming at raising awareness for refugees’ and migrants’ rights in view of the upcoming European Parliament Elections. We have one important power; our vote. In May, we, at JRS, invite all the citizens in Europe to use this power and vote. But doing it, while keeping in mind the rights of people in need. Our vote is a choice. It can build not only inclusive cities but even more an inclusive Europe, where people find protection, dignity, liberty and equality.
JRS launch campaign for EU elections. The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) has launched a campaign on 10 April to remind voters of the power they have in the upcoming European Parliamentary elections to ensure protection for the rights of asylum seekers and refugees. Using the hashtag format of social media, they are calling the campaign #ThePowerofVote. What makes the campaign all the more urgent is the serious threat to EU common values and principles in recent times. A shift in the culture has meant that there is now in some parts of Europe an absence of safe and legal pathways to protection. Also apparent is the extensive use of detention of asylum seekers and the worsening shortage of dignified living conditions. Speaking at the launch, David Moriarty, JRS Ireland Assistant Director, said: “European citizens have the power to vote for a Europe that remains true to its founding values and principles – a Europe that leaves no one behind. This #ThePowerofVote campaign is calling on all citizens to stand up for the fate of asylum seekers and refugees in Europe.” The campaign will ask citizens to vote for: A Europe of Protection through the establishment of enhanced safe and legal pathways to access European territory A Europe of Dignity by creating humane and dignified reception facilities for people in need of protection A Europe of Liberty by stopping the detention of vulnerable people, including children, and utilising alternatives to detention A Europe of Equality by making the integration of all citizens, including asylum seekers, refugees and forced migrants, a reality In conclusion, Mr. Moriarty added: “The next European Parliament will play a crucial role in shaping EU policy. It must strive towards the creation of an inclusive society for all. In advance of the elections, JRS will be campaigning in over 20 countries with one simple message: This May, go to vote because you have #ThePowerofVote!” The Power of Vote website is available at:
“Hospitality: do we need it?” was the question posed last Saturday, 9th march, by JRS Portugal and Brotéria that hosted an open day dedicated to the discussion about asylum and migration issues, given the approach of the European Elections. The purpose of this event was to call for attention to this reality and to keep it in the agenda during this pre-electoral period. The day was divided in three round tables aiming to answer how the hospitality is communicated, planned and lived nowadays. We began the day listening to three different journalists from different media channels that discussed the role of media regarding the theme’s exposure and public opinion towards migrants and refugees. The second round table gathered a representative of each Portuguese political family with a sit in the European Parliament to exchange their point of view on the subject taking into consideration the European Elections next may. The third and last round table aimed to share true stories about seeking hospitality under different ways and perspectives told in the first person by a stateless refugee, a Portuguese writer and traveller, a missionary in conflict countries and a jiu jitsu teacher that found hospitality within the martial art community around the world. During the event was presented a photo exhibition with recent photographs from Syria taken by Ouwais Sadeck, a Syrian student currently living in Portugal. This event also wanted to raise awareness to the participation in the next European Elections and to the online campaign that JRS Europe is engaged in. Sign In!
In a time when the gates of Europe seem closed to people in need of protection, JRS Italy is opening a new reception and integration centre for asylum seekers and refugees. The idea of opening a new centre was inspired by Pope Francis’ appeal to open the houses of religious congregations to host refugees on the occasion of his visit to JRS Italy in 2013. The new centre bears the name of Matteo Ricci, a Jesuit who dedicated his life to putting himself in other people’s shoes and looking for the path of dialogue and integration in China. President of the Republic and General Superior The Center was inaugurated 4 February, in the presence of the President of the Italian Republic and the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Arturo Sosa. The event brought together refugees, volunteers, staff and friends of Centro Astalli as well as institutional representatives of the Church. “I believe that opening a reception and integration centre is a strong sign, from a symbolic and concrete point of view,” said Father Camillo Ripamonti, Director of JRS Italy. He also stressed that our current society has an attitude of closure towards migrants, cautioning that such an attitude “takes hold of us,” making us “dry” and “less human” if we adopt it. The inauguration of the Matteo Ricci Centre is a sign of hope. Centro Astalli continues to open a door to refugees and migrants who are experiencing difficulties in this phase of radical legislative transformation. In the Centre, they can find a home and build new relationships that arise from the encounter. The Superior General Arturo Sosa reminded attendees in his speech that one of the key words of JRS’ mission is “to accompany” migrants and refugees. “It recalls the deep respect that Matteo Ricci had for each person as a companion on the journey”, said Sosa. The Matteo Ricci Centre aims to focus especially on young people by accompanying them as they ask themselves about their own professional and training needs and allowing them to cultivate dreams for the future. “This is the only feasible way forward for integration. We are convinced that in doing so we open a door of hope also for our city, for our country, because creative and educational development within these walls will help to build a supportive community beyond them,” Father Ripamonti concluded. Picture: Mohammed, a refugee from Egypt, gives a present to the President of the Italian Republic for the inauguration of the new Matteo Ricci centre (Photo: Centro Astalli).
JRS and the Croatian Ministry of the Interior signed an agreement on the integration of refugees The head of the Jesuit Refugee Service of South Eastern Europe (JRS), Father Tvrtko Barun, and the Croatian Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović signed a new Cooperation Agreement for the Integration of Resettled Persons from Turkey in late December 2018. The resettlement program is an expression of international solidarity and responsibility sharing among the countries which have experienced a significant influx of refugees or which have provided home for many of them. The program is also an internationally agreed strategy for the management of migration, the decrease of illegal migration, and the prevention of human trafficking, all of which refugees are often exposed to. In addition, the resettlement of citizens from developing countries or civilians without citizenship enables refugees and resettled individuals in need of international protection a legal and safe entry into EU countries, where they are provided with the necessary protection. Based on two government decisions from 2015 and 2017, Croatia is required to accept 250 refugees. So far, 152 people from Syria have been accepted and successfully integrated into Croatian society based on the first decision. This resulted in a second decision, as well as the new agreement between the Croatian Ministry of the Interior and JRS for a period of thirteen months, which presents the basis for the integration of the remaining 100 refugees. The activities for the admission and complete integration will be conducted by the JRS, while the Ministry of the Interior will finance the process using EU funds. Fr Tvrtko Barun SJ receives new awards Fr Barun has already received numerous international and national recognition for his work, including, among others, the European citizen’s prize, given by European Parliament in 2017. Recently, he was awarded the prestigious “Mašović-Vincetić-Nikolić” human rights award by the Croatian Helsinki Committee for his contribution in promoting religious tolerance, inter-religious conversation, and ecumenism. He was also recently given special recognition by the Association for Religion Freedom in the Republic of Croatia. Both awards testify to Tvrtko Barun’s professional and personal dedication to the Jesuit calling and the mission of JRS. As always, Fr Barun dedicated these awards and recognition to the staff and volunteers of JRS, with whom he works daily for the well-being of refugees. Christmas Lunch with a Refugee  For the third consecutive year, the Jesuit Refugee Service Croatia successfully carried out a campaign "Christmas Lunch with a Refugee". During these three years, around hundred of Croatian families, including religious communities, hosted for a holiday meal, in the atmosphere of friendship, warm welcome and hospitality an equal number of refugee families from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and other countries - families hoping to build a new life in Croatia in peace and security.  This campaign also served to raise awareness of the rights and needs of refugees across the local community. Fr Tvrtko Barun SJ, the director of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) for Southeast Europe said that the goal of this project is to connect two worlds, refugees and the local community, thus helping the integration of refugees into Croatian society. "Christmas lunch as a setting for intimate connectedness of family members, where families invite strangers, refugees, is a strong symbolism in terms of integration, sharing of customs and culture, and creating new friendships that will help people achieve a better life," Barun said, and added that this event is often a beginning of a year-round social gathering, where new opportunities are opened, both for language learning and for finding job and spreading the circle of acquaintances and support. Guided by the invitation of the Jesuit Refugee Service Croatia to recognise the hope of many of today's refugee families in the spirit of Christmas, numerous members of the Raffai family from Zagreb, this year hosted ass many as three refugee families - an Iranian married couple with whom they have been in contact and their friendship lasts since last year's Christmas lunch, a single mother with three sons from Syria and a young five-member Syrian family. Though from different parts of the world, these families gathered in a small living room of the host with a big heart. They all concluded: "we are now a family and lifelong friends".  
JRS European regional coordination meeting. Brussels, 25 October 2018 – This week JRS Europe organised the bi-annual Regional Coordination Meeting (RCM) in Brussels. For two days, directors from 17 national offices in Europe came together with the JRS Europe team to strengthen capacities to fulfil our mission to accompany, serve and advocate on behalf of refugees and other forcibly displaced people. “The RCM is an intense time for the national directors and the staff of the Regional Office. It is a time for planning and evaluation of the common projects and activities, but overall, it is a time to share a common vision built from the diversity of our engagements at the local level. The daily fieldwork conducted by staff and volunteers, together with the lived experience of refugees, constitutes the basis of our reflection. The closer our analysis is to reality, the more successful our programs will be. This sense of proximity to the concrete life is challenged by an ambitious vision driven by high ethical principles. Refugees don’t deserve less from us,” said JRS Europe Director Jose Ignacio Garcia SJ after the meeting. JRS Europe is working on a Strategic Framework for the region, and the RCM was an opportunity to work on common programmatic areas and guidelines on how to work better together. The programme for the meeting included key updates from each country, as well as advocacy sessions around private sponsorship and the sharing of responsibilities between Member States of the European Union. The directors received an update on several projects that are coming to an end in the next months, such as Protection at External Borders and Communities of Hospitality. The sessions also included a presentation on new projects that will be implemented in 2019. Furthermore, the newly appointed Fundraising Officer of JRS Europe, Christoph Klotz, conducted a conversation on funding. Sara Garcia, Communications Officer of JRS Europe, presented the steps we are taking to develop a Communications Strategy for JRS Europe. The new JRS Serbia Director, Violeta Markovic, said “What is useful about coming to the RCM is the networking and connecting and also to know that my office is a part of something bigger.” The next RCM will take place in Barcelona in April 2019.