God is Calling Us through These PeopleFriday, August 23rd, 2013
“Struck and shocked by the plight of thousands of boat people (from Vietnam) and refugees, I felt it my duty to send cable messages to some 20 Major Superiors around the world. Sharing my distress with them, I asked what they in their countries and the universal Society could do to bring at least some relief to such a tragic situation,” wrote Father Pedro Arrupe SJ to Major Superiors of the Society of Jesus on November 14th, 1980.
His compelling words led to the decision in Rome to initiate the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS). The tragedy of “boat people” is still ongoing today with thousands of refugees departing each year on perilous boat journeys with the hope of reaching safe soil. It remains a relentless call to the Society of Jesus to continue responding to one of the greatest crises of our times.
There are currently around 45.2 million refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced persons worldwide, according to the UN Refugee Agency [ http://www.unhcr.org.uk/news-and-views/news-list/news-detail/article/new-unhcr-report-says-global-forced-displacement-at-18-year-high.html ].
Indonesiahosts an estimated 8,000 asylum seekers and nearly two thousand verified refugees. Most asylum seekers and refugees live in urban areas and feel they have been forgotten. Their human rights fell by the wayside when they were forced to flee their home countries. Now, they feel effectively criminalized inIndonesia, labeled “illegal immigrants”.
“I am not a criminal; why am I jailed in this place?” a refugee locked up behind bars in a detention centre pleaded with JRS staff.
A Communicative Presence
In a world that appears increasingly hostile to refugees, JRS is directly and personally present to accompany and listen to refugee stories. This companionship paves the way for JRS help them to restore their dignity and to gain material and spiritual sustenance to survive the ordeal of displacement both its material and spiritual aspects. Being present as a companion and servant, JRS advocates for the rights of refugees in many ways.
JRS Indonesia staff, in the course of their accompaniment of Refugees and Asylum Seekers who are detained in the Immigration Detention Centers of Belawan and Pasuruan facilitate the development of open dialogue between Detention Center officers and refugees so that officers provide humane treatment for the detainees.
JRS staff also accompanies and advocates for asylum seekers living in communities, such as in Cisarua, West Java, where asylum seekers from the Middle East, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Africa live out a precarious existence, vulnerable to police sweeps and arrests. JRS facilitates their access to education and health care, initially accompanying them to schools and hospitals to ensure admission. Moreover, together with a pro bono lawyer’s network – Suaka – JRS helps asylum seekers to prepare their applications for Refugee Status Determination with the UNHCR in Jakarta.
In cooperation with students of Sanata Dharma University and other volunteers in Yogyakarta, JRS provides English courses to those who have received refugee status and are awaiting resettlement. The process can take several years, and in the interim refugees can learn a language which they can use in their new countries.
JRS also raises the voices of refugees and asylum seekers who are searching for justice, by publishing their stories in a quarterly newsletter “Refuge” available on the JRS Indonesia website (www.jrs.or.id). Other projects include developing documentary films about the hidden lives of refugees and publishing books to raise awareness on the subject. Discussions and group activities are organized together with the ecclesial communities, students, teachers, high school students, and other social groups, in order to encourage a common awareness of the importance of refugee protection.
“I left my children in Afghanistan. I miss them every day. I am doing this for the sake of my family because I love them,” said one asylum seeker who was wanted by armed forces in Afghanistan and did not want his family to suffer the danger with him.
Through sharing the human grief and hardship with refugees and asylum seekers, God touches our hearts and calls on us to find Him. As Pedro Arrupe SJ expressed his faith, “God is calling us through these people”.
(Indonesia) Paus Fransiskus berulang kali mengunjungi para pengungsi, menyapa mereka dan mendorong kepedulian terhadap mereka. Ia bahkan pernah memboyong tiga keluarga pengungsi Suriah ke Vatikan. Bagaimana pandangan dan ajaran Gereja terkait pengungsi? Continue reading
If we, as a human family, insist on only ever seeing refugees as a burden, we deprive ourselves of the opportunities for solidarity that are also always opportunities for mutual learning, mutual enrichment, and mutual growth. Continue reading
Yogyakarta, 20 November 2014 – The Jesuit Refugee Service observes with deep sadness yet another sudden retroactive change in the policy of Australia towards people seeking international protection in Southeast Asia. Yesterday, the government of Australia announced its decision to … Continue reading
Together with the Community of United Volunteers Yogjakarta, JRS Indonesia took part in the emergency response in Kelud. The Community of United Volunteers Yogjakarta, comprised of a diverse group of individuals and students from Yogyakarta, work together in humanitarian disaster response, being present and providing support in the form of accompaniment, counseling activities or delivering urgently needed goods. JRS Indonesia provided funds to support the operational and expenditure of urgently need goods, also presence in the field for two days, on February 26-27, 2014. Continue reading
Celebrating 33 years of being with and serving refugees, JRS would like to encourage you to extend your hospitality and support to our brothers and sisters that are here to seek protection. Continue reading
“It’s not enough to give a sandwich if it isn’t accompanied by the possibility of learning to stand on one’s own two feet. Charity that does not change the situation of the poor isn’t enough. True mercy, which God gives and teaches us, calls for justice, for a way in which the poor can find a way out of poverty.” Continue reading
The Jesuit Refugee Service joined together with the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and representatives of a number of faith-based organisations to call for greater protection for refugees.
The multilingual, 16-page declaration, known as an Affirmation of Welcome, is the first to involve UNHCR and a spectrum of faith-based organisations. Continue reading
In May 2013 JRS supported the SUAKA Diplomat briefing on the situation of Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Indonesia. SUAKA and JRS participated in a Focus Group Discussion at the National Human Rights Commission discussing and promoting Indonesia’s ratification of the convention on the status of Refugees and its protocol. SUAKA continues to provide legal advice and accompaniment to Asylum Seekers during the RSD process mostly referrals from JRS. Currently a more comprehensive referral system is developed in a collaboration of JRS and SUAKA. Continue reading
It was Sunday evening of 9 September 2012. Twelve African men were walking toward a rather big shop in Cipayung. They were some asylum seekers from Somalia, Sudan and Ethiopia. Their destination, a place on the third floor of that … Continue reading
Yogyakarta, 14 November 2011 – 31 years is not short measured on a lifetime. After a 31 year journey JRS is proud of the heritage of spiritual insights from Pedro Arrupe who arouse the concern of people for the refugees. This year, JRS Indonesia celebrated its 31st anniversary in many simple ways. Continue reading