JRS Syria's work for peace recognised

The work of the Jesuit Refugee Service in Syria has been recognised with the 2014 Pax Christi International Peace Award. Since 2011, JRS Syria has concentrated on helping vulnerable people who have remained in the country, despite the violence that surrounds them. The award was made at the weekend at the Sarajevo Peace Event 2014.

JRS Syria was recognised by Pax Christi in particular for its interfaith work. The agency provides support to anyone in need, with a team made up of people of different nationalities, culture and religions. It says its message is that we all should open our doors to one another, foster respect and love in our communities, and realise that we can live together, without being afraid of one another.

The Jesuit Refugee Service began working in the Middle East and North Africa in 2008 in response to the large number of people displaced as a result of conflict in the region. Since 2011, JRS Syria has provided support to over 300,000 people affected by the conflict in Syria, accompanying, serving and defending their rights and providing food, essentials items for hygiene, basic healthcare and shelter. JRS also provide educational and psycho-social support to almost 10,000 women and children in Syria. Last April, Dutch Jesuit Fr Frans van der Lugt SJ, who had insisted on remaining with the people of Homs despite the dangers, was brutally murdered. Although not directly part of JRS, Fr Frans had lived in Homs for 50 years and was a source of inspiration to many of the young people who volunteer with JRS in Homs, Damascus and Aleppo.

Pax Christi says the International Peace Award not only acknowledges the work of JRS Syria but also recognises symbolically the work of all women and men who work compassionately to serve their fellow Syrians suffering as a consequence of the civil war. 

Photo: JRS staff and volunteers in Damascus, Syria prepare boxes with essential items for distribution to displaced families.