JRS 2017 report: “unprecedented displacement”
The displacement of populations around the world reached unprecedented levels last year, according to the recently published Annual Report of the Jesuit Refugee Service. 2017, the report claims, was a year of “massive humanitarian need caused by the highest levels of forced displacement ever recorded”.
According to the Annual Report, children accounted for “half of those on the move”. In its effort to respond to this, the JRS, “building on centuries of Jesuit expertise in the field of education”, has made the teaching of refugees a priority. More than 180,000 refugees benefited from their educational programmes in 2017, 30,000 more than in 2016. And critical in the development of these programmes has been the JRS’s concentration on teacher training among the refugees themselves.
'We are well on our way to achieving the goals of the Global Education Initiative (GEI), an ambitious plan to increase the total number of people served in JRS education programmes from 150,000 in 2015 to 250,000 by 2020' reads the organisation's website. Two years into the five-year campaign, JRS has enrolled an additional 54,987 refugees in their education courses, thereby reaching 55 per cent of the GEI target.
Overall in 2017 the JRS managed to serve more than 630,000 people throughout the 52 countries in which they operate. The report notes, however, that the total number of forcibly displaced people throughout the world last year exceeded 68 million.
Psychosocial support programmes were another highlight of the organisation's response to the needs of refugees. These programmes promote the personal healing of individuals and strengthen their resilience; they also contribute to the cohesion of the entire community. In 2017, JRS provided mental health and psychosocial support, and religious pastoral care, to 164,383 people.
The document comprises also the stories of refugees such as Sa’ad, a young Syrian boy who has endured hardships that no child should have to bear, and yet has been able to find hope and love through the dedicated accompaniment of JRS staff. Half of the record 68.5 million forcibly displaced people in the world last year were children like Sa’ad.
“JRS’s commitment to journey with refugees does not falter. Whether the need is pastoral accompaniment or preschool, teacher training or peace building, JRS seeks to be present,” says JRS International Director Fr Thomas H Smolich SJ.