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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Lessons (Not) Learned. In Covid-19 and Immigration Detention: Lessons (Not) Learned, JRS Europe presents the findings and lessons learned from a mapping on the impact of Covid-19 on administrative detention in seven EU countries (Belgium, Germany, Italy, Malta, Romania, Portugal, Spain). The report criticizes bad practices, highlights a few positive decisions at national level, and gives recommendations to national authorities and the EU institutions on what to do during and beyond the pandemic. Download the report
London-based charity, the Jesuit Refugee Service UK has renewed its condemnation of the use of disused barracks as asylum accommodation in the wake of a fire at Napier Barracks, which has led to a lack of electricity and hot water. It was rapidly followed by revelations that Home Office officials intentionally deployed substandard asylum accommodation to manage public opinion.  In considering the use of barracks as asylum accommodation, the Home Office stated that destitute people seeking asylum were “not analogous” to British citizens and other permanent residents in need of state welfare assistance concluding that “less generous” support for people seeking asylum was “justified by the need to control immigration”, while better accommodation “could undermine public confidence in the asylum system”. These events follow a COVID-19 outbreak at Napier barracks the week before last, where it has been reported that 120 people have tested positive. Sarah Teather, Director of JRS UK, said “People who have been forced to flee their homes have been subjected to unsafe, undignified, and inhumane conditions in barracks accommodation. We have sometimes been told that this is an emergency measure. Now, we see compelling evidence that it is intentionally cruel and part of a wider strategy: the government is risking the lives of the most vulnerable in order to make a political point. This gratuitous brutality is an insult to the British public whose decency and care for those in need runs a good deal deeper than Ministers’ base instincts.” JRS UK’s detention outreach team is providing phone support to individuals accommodated at Napier barracks, and has witnessed a serious deterioration in the mental health of some individuals over their time there. Barracks accommodation both at Napier in Folkestone and at Penally in Pembrokeshire has been widely criticised as inhumane, with an inadequate supply of food and blankets and severely limited access to medical care. In November, a group of leading clinical experts noted the high risk of infection at the sites, where social distancing is impossible. They also noted that highly controlling regimes at the sites – including use of curfews – meant they resembled “open prisons” analogous to immigration detention. Both sites have regularly encountered protests by fascists who have sometimes sought to prevent NGOs and others from passing basic necessities to residents. JRS UK is aware of credible reports that this weekend, police and onsite managers also turned away people trying to deliver food and blankets. The government is legally obliged to provide accommodation to people who would otherwise be destitute while their asylum claims are heard. People seeking asylum are banned from working and cannot access mainstream benefits, so are frequently forced to rely on such asylum support. The use of the barracks sits within a pattern of deliberately harsh asylum policies: the government has a policy of creating ‘hostile environment’ for people refused asylum and others without immigration documents, and bans people seeking asylum from working, partly on the dubious basis that allowing them to do so would act as a ‘pull-factor’ to others. In recent years, government ministers have repeatedly referred to detention as a ‘deterrent’ against immigration infractions. JRS UK’s latest report, ‘Detained and Dehumanised: The impact of immigration detention’ found that the real effect of the Home Office policy of immigration detention in prison-like conditions, is that it fosters a culture of death, self-harm and ongoing mental and physical trauma leaving those who are detained, or threatened by the prospect of detention, dehumanised. Jesuits in Britain
Systemic solutions and meaningful EU support, including safe pathways, could prevent recurring humanitarian emergencies. Hundreds of migrants and asylum-seekers remain abandoned in northwest Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) in the wasteland that hosted camp Lipa, erected last year as a temporary accommodation during COVID-19 pandemic and closed down on December 23. For the third week, they have been sleeping under open sky with sub-zero temperatures. Due to the inability of the politicians at all levels of government in the country to reach an agreement, all attempts to relocate the Lipa residents to winter-ready centres elsewhere in BiH have failed. Leading human rights organizations urge the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to ensure immediate humanitarian support, including suitable shelter and assistance, to migrants and asylum-seekers on its territory. Read the statement of 4 NGO’s  (Refugee Rights Europe, Amnesty International, JRS-Europe and Médecins du monde): Picture: Bira camp in Bihac, Bosnia and Herzegovina (Photo: Kristof Holvenyi/JRS Europe).
At JRS in Europe we have created Faces of JRS to celebrate all the people that are part of JRS.   Here is the video we used for the launch of the campaign.   Pope Francis commemorated JRS’s 40th Anniversary. Read the letter he wrote to JRS        
The Jesuit Refugee Service Portugal (JRS) welcomed in early November the Portuguese government's decision to extend the temporary regularisation of migrants until March 31, 2021 and - following the recommendation made by JRS in March 2020 - to include migrants with requests for regularisation submitted after the declaration date of the State of Emergency (March 18, 2020). These extraordinary measures will have a significant impact on the lives of migrants seeking an opportunity in Portugal to rebuild their lives in a dignified manner, but also on the national economic recovery, given the significant contributions of foreign citizens to the Portuguese state. The JRS recalls that in 2019 they reached a net positive balance of 750 million euros, contributing to the sustainability of Social Security. However, the Jesuit Refugee Service questions why foreign citizens are only allowed to live regularly, with full rights, on a temporary basis. People arriving in Portugal should have the opportunity to contribute to our community and consequently have full labour rights, access to the NHS and social benefits in return for their work, thus ensuring their integration into Portuguese society. Not only during the current pandemic, but always. In this sense, the JRS appeals to the Portuguese Government to consecrate definitively the access to essential rights for people with pending regularisation processes.
On October 20 and 22, JRS Europe team along with the national directors from the 22 JRS Offices around Europe held the second virtual Regional Coordination Meeting of 2020. Reconciliation The meeting opened with a reflection on reconciliation. JRS International’s expert staff members presented the work that JRS carries out worldwide in different geographic contexts about reconciliation, with an approach that prioritize the capacity building and, above of all, the recreation of relationships among the different groups.  They also invited the whole JRS European network to think about the concept’s applicability in Europe, which led to the recognition of the necessity to deconstruct racism and stereotypes within the host communities as well as among the refugees’ ones. JRS Europe’s updates on advocacy, communications and programmes The discussions moved toward another current important topic on the migration agenda: the newly proposed EU Pact on Asylum and Migration. Claudia Bonamini, JRS Europe’s Policy and Advocacy Officer, presented and analysed the legislative measures contained in the proposal, which raised several doubts and concerns about the sufficient level of protection of the refugees’ rights.  The JRS Europe’s staff members presented recent updates in their respecting working areas, such as communications and programmes, highlighting important spaces for cooperation. JRS Europe’s Regional Director showed a presentation on how to ensure the wellbeing of JRS staff during these challenging and worrying times of physical distance, which was followed by an open discussion among the participants. A special Annual General Meeting Finally, the day ended with the 2020 Annual General Meeting. Despite the impossibility to meet in person, over 150 staff members and volunteers of the JRS offices all around Europe managed to celebrate the 40 years anniversary of JRS by gathering together online, dressing in blue and sharing what JRS means for them. Download the JRS-Europe Annual Report 2019