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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In the lead up to the World Day of Migrants & Refugees, JRS Europe and partners launch CHANGE. CHANGE is a project that builds a society in which everyone is welcome and can participate. JRS Europe is committed to making CHANGE happen together with JRS Croatia, JRS Hungary, JRS Ireland, JRS Italy, Stanislas College in the Netherlands, JRS Malta, JRS Portugal and ALBOAN in Spain. CHANGE’s focus on education through critical thinking and value formation on migration and refugee issues is of critical importance to the CHANGE partners. We believe that it is young people who will shape the attitudes and societies of tomorrow and we want to help form and enable young people to make a CHANGE in their schools and local communities. CHANGE, through a defined 6–stage educational course facilitated by teachers, aims to encourage students to think critically on the subject of refugees and migration, to distinguish facts from opinions, and to recognise prejudices and stereotypes. In this way, students will be able to make their own, well-founded judgments. By giving students meaningful knowledge, experiences, encounters, and new perspectives, CHANGE seeks to form young people who are ready to face and embody their role in building a society in which everyone is welcome and has the opportunity to participate. CHANGE provides a platform for refugees to share their stories directly with students, enabling refugees to speak in classrooms, and to share their experience of living in Europe, as well as their hopes and dreams for the future. Through this platform, CHANGE will provide a opportunity for encounter between refugees and young people, with the goal to foster a sense of understanding and connection. Another component of CHANGE is the Student Ambassador programme, which encourages students to get more involved and to engage in a minimum of two concrete actions, such as small-scale events, campaigns or service projects, to share what they have learned with their school or local communities. Students then communicate these experiences across social media using the hashtag #IamCHANGE. Together – students, teachers and refugees – all have a role to play in CHANGE. Learning, teaching and sharing experiences during moments of encounter facilitate the changing of perspectives and contribute towards the creation of the society that we want to live in. Visit the CHANGE website to learn more. On the site, you can find information about the 6-stage course, the Student Ambassador programme and check-out the CHANGE blog. You can follow and share about CHANGE on social media using the hashtags #IamCHANGE and #2gether4CHANGE. This project is co-funded by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) of the European Union. JRS Europe is an international Catholic organisation with a mission to serve, accompany and advocate on behalf of refugees and others who are forcibly displaced.
Brussels, 21 October 2019 – Last week national directors from 17 JRS offices in Europe came together with the JRS Europe team in the bi-annual Regional Coordination Meeting (RCM) in Leuven. The aim of the two days was to strengthen synergies and to reinforce our work to serve, accompany and advocate on behalf of refugees and other forcibly displaced people. The agenda for the meeting included key updates from each country. These meetings are an opportunity to learn about the situation of asylum seekers and refugees in the different national contexts and about what JRS is doing to support these people in the different areas of our work, such as integration, reception and support to migrants and asylum seekers in detention.  This year JRS International Director Tom Smolich attended the meeting to present global strategies and to share the work JRS is doing in other regions. As refugee participation is an important value for JRS around the world, JRS Europe staff organized a session to reflect on what refugee participation looks like for the different national JRS offices. “There is a strong sense throughout JRS in Europe that we need to increase the participation of refugees in our programmes. This has to be done in a way that respects the concrete situations, can give real opportunities to those refugees that want to join efforts with JRS. We need to overcome our logical resistances, but the experience of some national teams give us the means to move forward,” said JRS Europe director Jose Ignacio Garcia SJ. The advocacy session included a revision of the positive results of the JRS campaign “The Power of Vote,” a presentation on EU political developments and the state of play of EU migration legislation, and a discussion concerning  the next steps to continue advocating as JRS in Europe. In this meeting, the programmes department drew on key programmatic areas for JRS in Europe to imagine future common European projects that can strengthen the work JRS does, with a focus on what we consider to be the most needed areas in the current European context . The next RCM will take place in Lisbon in April 2019 together with the Annual General Meeting, which gathers around 60 staff members of JRS in Europe.
Annual report JRS. 2018 has had an end-of-cycle tone for this European Regional Office. With the conclusion of the projects Protection of External Borders and Communities of Hospitality, we have closed a long cycle of three years that has focused our action, jointly with our partners, on protection of human rights at the external borders of the EU, and meaningful encounters between forcibly displaced people and their new communities in Europe. In fact, the topic of Protection is the focus of this Annual Report. The Protection of External Borders project has allowed us to realize, with concern, that the external borders of the EU are still a grey area in terms of law enforcement and the effective protection of human rights for those who arrive. Although the EU has been equipping itself with different legal instruments to ensure that protection is carried out with high standards, the reality at border posts, unfortunately, remains clearly poor.  JRS experience protecting refugees and asylum seekers in Europe was very broad in 2018. Projects sheltering vulnerable people in countries such as Macedonia, Serbia, and Greece, and visits to migrants in detention centres to provide them with legal assistance, are only a few examples of the scope of this work. Every year, the Annual Report is an opportunity to acknowledge the effort and generosity of our many benefactors, staff and volunteers. To them we offer our most sincere gratitude.
A discussion was organised by Centro Astalli, the Jesuit Refugee Service , on June 17, at the Gregorian University, between Luciano Manicardi, Prior of the Community of Bose, Massimo Cacciari, Philosopher, and Marco Damilano, Director of L'Espresso, on the theme of migration "Refugees: on the margins of humanity". "Thirty years ago, following the fall of the Berlin Wall, we had dreamt of a unity of diversity," Fr. Ripamonti said at the introduction. "We do not know the exact number of people who died while trying to reach West Berlin through the wall, perhaps a few hundred. Instead, it is estimated that more than 30,000 people have lost their lives since 1990 trying to reach Europe by sea or by land ... the human cost of building barriers in a European Union born to break them down is definitely unacceptable. A Europe that is irreparably "old and frightened", says Massimo Cacciari. And inspite of this, "Europe's purpose is to be welcoming because otherwise it will disappear: it will be a long and probably tragic process, unless a ruling class is formed, a qualified elite, which understands the historical, economic and social need to welcome and integrate". The only possible European policy to save the old continent is "a Mediterranean policy", which will be able to connect to the great question of the next century, "Africa, and its enormous resources" in terms of wealth and youth. "The great cultures that have founded Europe", the philosopher says," the liberal, socialist and Christian ones, "have managed to survive but they must make a new narrative about Europe", "a new cultural and anthropological understanding". Even the laws of the Old Testament drew up a "code of the rights of the migrant", in which "there is first of all a "culture of memory", "Do not oppress others because you too have been foreigners", the biblical God reveals Himself to the Jews when they were foreigners in Egypt", recalls the prior of Bose, Luciano Manicardi. In the immigrant, he adds, the son of Israel sees his own image, "the foreigner allows you to see yourself by making you a foreigner, and thus giving you a possibility of revelation. Finally, ancient laws evoke concrete integration, economic, social and religious measures, such as the addition of the sabbatical rest or the payment of fair wages. "At the heart of the Christian message", explains the prior of Bose , "there isn't something religious, but something human, the concrete person with a history, a face and his suffering". From the Gospel narrative we therefore grasp that "becoming neighbor is first of all acting on oneself".
JRS opened a Refugee Transition Centre (CTR) in Évora (south region of Portugal) with capacity for 30 people with the aim of ensuring the initial reception of families from Turkey and Egypt under the Resettlement Programme from ACNUR. The stay of refugee families should not exceed three months, after which they will be redirected to the Refugee Support Platform host institutions throughout the country. The period of stay at the centre aims to adapt the residents to the Portuguese culture, while their profile is studied to facilitate the selection of host institutions that will host them. "This solution is the one that best suits and enables the preparation of the reception and we believe that a better integration in Portuguese society. It's not enough to do good, we need to do good, well done", says André Costa Jorge, general director of JRS Portugal. Team The centre will have a JRS team composed of a technical staff, with two Portuguese teachers, a social technician, administrative and logistical coordination, a psychologist, in addition to a security component for proximity monitoring. Nine families from Syria and Iraq are expected to arrive at the Centre next July. The Portuguese government has committed to welcoming 1010 people under the Resettlement Programme by the end of 2019. Projects in Portugal In addition to the center now open in Évora, JRS-Portugal  is involved in different projects: Lisbon: Pedro Arrupe Center– a Shelter for homeless refugees; autonomous residence for refugees living an integration process; technical direction of a municipal attendance center; runs its own attendance center which has different valences: job search; psychological help; formation center. In Oporto the centre is responsible for accompanying refugees living in a detention centre.
Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) is happy to announce the release of our new logo as we seek to respond to the situation of refugees and other forcibly displaced people in more effective ways. Our mission to accompany, serve, and advocate on behalf of refugees compels us to adapt and change as circumstances demand.  Nearly 40 years since JRS was first founded, and 30 years since JRS Europe was founded, we remain convinced that the value of accompaniment, journeying with the dispossessed as they seek to rebuild their lives, is at the heart of who we are as an organisation. Our new logo tells the world that we walk with refugees in search of a just future through protection, hospitality, inclusion and reconciliation. JRS has always rendered a service that not only brings healing in the present, but also creates resources and opportunities for human and spiritual formation towards a better tomorrow. A response to the national, European and global reality of refugees and forced migrants is why JRS is in existence. JRS continues to work towards a Europe where human rights, protection, hospitality, integration, and reconciliation all have a place to flourish within a larger vision for inclusive and welcoming societies. Still the value of accompaniment, journeying with refugees as they seek to rebuild their lives, is at the heart of who we are as an organisation.