Refugees, a part of our World

Friday, June 20th, 2014

On 20 June the world is again observing World Refugee Day, raising awareness on the situation of millions of people forced to flee their home countries in search for safety. The day is not only a time to reflect about the causes of forced displacements during the last years which have seen many conflicts, persecution and intolerance, or the dire circumstances people endure in overcrowded camps and detention centers or on perilous journeys to safety across borders, only to find too often a suspicious and unfriendly welcome in the countries they seek protection. The day is also about remembering that many refugees shaped this world as it is today and contributed in many small and big ways to our individual lives.

Looking at UNHCR’s list of prominent refugees[1] I find many artists, writers, scientists and even politicians that shaped the world we are living in now. Musicians like Bob Marley who fled Jamaica during political violence, Frederic Chopin fleeing Poland, Gil Gilberto, Freddy Mercury were refugees as well as contemporary musicians like Mika (Lebanon) or Gloria Estephan a daughter of a refugee from Cuba. Writers like Milan Kundera, Isabel Allende, Victor Hugo and Thomas Mann a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, artists like Marc Chagal and Wassily Kandinsky, actors like Jackie Chan were forced to flee their home countries to seek safety. The question arises what would have happened if we would have turned these people away on our borders. How Freddy Mercuries and Jackie Chan’s have we turned away?

To be potentially famous and successful should not influence the decision to receive and welcome those seeking safety and protection from persecution. Our friendly neighbor, the restaurant owner or chef around the corner providing us with a culinary opportunity make their own contributions to our lives. “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity” said one of the world’s most famous refugees Albert Einstein once, who is only one under many refugee philosophers and scientists including Sigmund Freud, Karl Popper, Hanna Arendt and Friedrich Nietzsche. We should use this world refuge day to reflect on the small and big opportunities that are presented to us encountering refugees in our midst as this welcome is not only an opportunity for them to be safe but also for us and our future.

Mid 2013 over 15.000 Indonesian citizens live as either asylum seekers or refugees in other countries.[2]

“A change of attitude towards migrants and refugees is needed on the part of everyone, moving away from attitudes of defensiveness and fear, indifference and marginalization – all typical of a throwaway culture – towards attitudes based on a culture of encounter, the only culture capable of building a better, more just and fraternal world.” MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS “FOR THE WORLD DAY OF MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES” (2014)[3]

(Indonesia) Pastor Thomas Aquinas Maswan Susinto, SJ: Pengungsi Ingin Hidup Damai

(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

Refugees: An opportunity to grow together

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

Australia: shutting the door in the face of a global humanitarian crisis

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

Kelud Emergency Response

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

33 Years on, the Needs of Displaced are bigger than Ever

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

Vatican: Pope Francis appeals for hospitality and justice during visit to Jesuit Refugee Service

“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

JRS joins multi-faith call for refugee protection

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

JRS Indonesia Accompaniment to Refugees and Asylum Seekers 2013

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

31st Anniversary of JRS

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