On Assignment
Welcome to On Assignment at Jesuit Refugee Service International Office. Here you can read in-depth accounts of the experiences of staff in the field as they reflect on the delivery of services and the accompaniment of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons.
Sur le terrain
Bienvenus à Sur le terrain, au Bureau international du Service Jésuite des Réfugiés. Ici, vous pourrez  lire des comptes rendus approfondis sur des expériences vécues par le personnel sur le terrain, qui reflètent la fourniture de services ainsi l'accompagnement de réfugiés et autres personnes déplacées de force.
Sobre el terreno
Bienvenido a Sobre el Terreno de la Oficina Internacional del Servicio Jesuita a Refugiados. Aquí encontrarás descripciones en profundidad de las experiencias del personal sobre el terreno a través de sus reflexiones sobre los servicios y el acompañamiento a refugiados y otras personas desplazadas por la fuerza.
Dal campo

Benvenuto nella sezione Dal campo dell'Ufficio Internazionale del Servizio dei Gesuiti per i Rifugiati. Qui trovi resoconti dettagliati delle esperienze dello staff nel lavoro sul campo, con riflessioni sui servizi offerti e sull’accompagnamento dei rifugiati e di altri migranti forzati.


Syria: we can still give people our time
23 January 2014
Damascus, 23 January 2014 - I have been working with JRS in Damascus for about nine months now, as the home visits coordinator. We have seven teams that visit families every day. They assess the needs of each family, and we are able to discern which families are in most need of help, or if they need specific assistance – medical and so on.
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Croatia: a gift of enduring friendship
20 January 2014
Zagreb, 20 January 2014 – "I am over 50 years, but now I feel like orphan without Father Kušan." Stjepan Kušan SJ died in April 2013, aged 69, after 51 years as a Jesuit. This message came from Milan, a Croatian man who was devoted to Stjepan. Milan had been a soldier in the horrific Balkans wars in the nineties.
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United Kingdom: mitigating harmful government policies on detained migrants
03 October 2013
London, 3 October 2013 – In a recent conversation with a German colleague I learned that oversight for the detention of asylum seekers has recently been granted to the courts, resulting in the dramatic reduction in the numbers detained. This is in sharp contrast with continuing practices in the United Kingdom where the decision to detain asylum seekers is made by civil servants with little judicial oversight. Equally important there is no limit to the duration of administrative detention in the UK, notwithstanding the potential impact on the health of detained asylum seekers.
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Chad: a meeting of two worlds
12 August 2013
Goz Beida, 12 August 2013 - In September 2011, I arrived in Goz Beida, eastern Chad, to coordinate a JRS project supporting primary schools for displaced children. That I was in a Muslim country soon became amply clear. Here, women are veiled; greetings and conversations are peppered with Amdullah! (thanks be to God), Allebakhit! (God bless you), Inchallah! (God willing).
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Geneva: the centrality of faith
24 May 2013
Geneva, 20 May 2013 - Recognising that faith plays a pivotal role in the experience of refugees is key to offering protection. There was no denying this reality during a high-level dialogue on faith and protection organised by UNHCR in Geneva in December 2012, which explored the centrality of faith for refugees, the strengths and challenges of faith-based organisations (FBOs) as well as their relationship with other humanitarian actors. However the UN agency admitted the need and announced steps to become more "faith-literate" to reach a deeper understanding of all these elements.
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All that is not given is lost
10 January 2013
Chennai, 10 January 2013 – Pierre Ceyrac SJ died early on 30 May 2012 in Chennai at the age of 98. Pierre served with JRS in the camps of Cambodian refugees in Thailand from the early 1980s, indeed since the beginning of JRS. When Pierre died, a former JRS worker wrote, "an era of compassion without borders ends".
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Colombia: life is stronger than death
27 December 2012
Buenaventura, 27 December 2012 – First day... 29 June 2008: A wonderful Sunday afternoon. Children ran in every possible direction on the football pitch and community grounds of San Francisco district in Buenaventura, Valle del Cauca. Men and women bustled around, preparing activities to celebrate life as a community, with music, singing and laughter. It was an occasion worth celebrating: the closure of an intensive process of formation and exchange of ideas, of identifying ways to live in such an adverse environment.
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Jordan: when education is more than just learning
15 October 2012
Amman, 15 October 2012 – For eight months former Jesuit Refugee Service volunteer, Grace Benton, worked in a team of volunteers trying to offer refugees and their children the support they need to build a future. The courses went from strength to strength; but as she learned, the results were about more than learning curricular subjects, there were about building community and making refugees safer.
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Democratic Republic of Congo: lives hanging in the balance in North Kivu
28 February 2012
North Kivu, 28 February 2012 – Emmanuel Mirimo Mateene used to own a house and a small piece of farm land. His life was peaceful and it was relatively easy for him to put food on the table for his family. But that was before broke out war in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
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Ecuador: invisible Colombian refugees, discrimination and an uncertain future
02 February 2012
Quito, 02 February 2012 – Javier González* was teaching his nine-year-old son Miguel how to play chess when Miguel's mother, Rosa, interrupted their game to ask him what had happened at school today.
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Portugal: going the extra mile, a focus on mental health
01 November 2011
Brussels, 01 November 2011 – JRS Europe Media Assistant Cathal Foley speaks to mental health counsellor Sr Maria Jose Rebelo who explains the importance of addressing psychosocial needs of forced migrants.
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Jordan: Iraqi family mourns loss of daughter
20 April 2011
Amman, 20 April 2011 – Wafi Youssif recalls asking his daughter Raghda not to go to church because they had become targets for bombing attacks. She told her dad: "If I have to die, I don't mind dying in church". Unfortunately, a few hours later she did.
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Ecuador: effects of the Colombian conflict hit women refugees
15 November 2010
Quito, 11 November 2010 – I am haunted by our delegation’s visit to the border town of Lago Agrio, Ecuador, haunted by the stories of desperation from the refugee population, haunted by the lack of security offered to the residents, haunted by the lack of civilian state presence and the lack of UN presence besides UNHCR, haunted by the abuse suffered by the people at the hands of Colombian armed groups, the local police and even the Ecuadorian military.
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Democratic Republic of Congo: building schools, Bringing hope
03 September 2010
Washington DC, 9 September 2010 – It’s always a happy moment to accompany refugees as they return home after years of living in exile. For nearly 10 years Jesuit Refugee Service had cared for Congolese refugees, driven by war from their homes in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in Mwange Camp in northern Zambia. Although the camp was not far from the border with their home country, the ongoing conflict in the DRC made return impossible.
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Haiti: planting hope in Koujol
26 August 2010
"Jesuit Refugee Service has been more than a father to us all!" With these words Clauden and Damais, the president and treasurer of a local community group in Koujol, Haiti, summed up the role that JRS has played during the past year in helping a group of 200 local farmers begin an innovative farming project in this small community just a stone’s throw from Haiti’s northeast border with the Dominican Republic.
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USA: meeting spiritual needs in immigration detention centres
26 August 2010
John Krambuhl worked with JRS USA, focusing on the religious needs of immigration detainees in US government-sponsored detention facilities. Afterwards, John joined the faculty of Jesuit High School in Tampa to teach Theology and Ethics. John offered these reflections on his time spent with JRS USA.
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USA: affirming human dignity in detention centres
26 August 2010
I asked myself, “How can one celebrate the freedom that Christ brings us in a detention center?” Still, I knew that ‘Christ the King’ was with these three hundred men. When the words of Gospel of Matthew 25 were proclaimed, a number of heads nodded in understanding. They knew Jesus was speaking about them: ‘When I was in prison, you came and visited me. . . . Whatever you have done to the least of my brothers, you have done to me.” These men knew what it means to be hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, what it means to be a stranger. Some of them had crossed the border long ago; some had crossed it only days before; all of them sought work in the US and a brighter future for their families. The poverty in their home countries — Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico — had forced them to move North.
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Burundi: you have not forgotten us, a goat programme
30 June 2010
In 2008 the government of Burundi and the rebel armed forces finally reached a negotiated peace settlement that marked the end of nearly two decades of conflict. During the past two years more than 95,000 Burundians have returned home after having spent nearly twelve years as refugees in Tanzania. In the face of this large influx of poor refugees, we asked ourselves how we could help create an environment that ensured adequate food for them as they return to Burundi.
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Democratic Republic of Congo: quality indicators of JRS accompaniment
18 June 2010
Bujumbura, 18 June 2010 – ‘Quality’ and ‘impact’ have become key words in humanitarian discourse. Although it is easy to discuss these issues, it is not easy to assess the quality of our work. It is simpler to assess the quantity of services we provide: the number of schools built, books distributed, children in schools. However, when we talk about ‘accompaniment’ – the first word in the JRS mission – it is more complex to assess quality.
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Thailand: A new way of being present
06 December 2009
Mae Hong Son, 6 December 2010 – When I was a novice in Scotland many years ago, our novice master faced the challenges of directing young men in the Jesuit way of life, but at a time when the world and the Church were going through profound changes. The end of the 1960s brought the Paris revolution of the young, and the Church was still grappling with the implications of its engagement with the world after Vatican II.
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Nepal: difficult decisions, resettlement or the possibility of repatriation
15 April 2008
In comparison to many other refugee camps I have visited, there is a surprising lack of international presence in the Bhutanese camps. Camp administration is carried out by Camp Management Committees composed of the refugees themselves, with half of the positions occupied by women. Refugees carry out such functions as food distribution and provide the teaching staff for JRS schools, receiving only a small "incentive" payment as return for dedicated volunteer service.
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Sri Lanka: destruction and suffering in 'post-conflict' society
25 February 2008
In December 2007 Fr Ken Gavin, JRS USA Director, and Ron Ferreri, Development Director, visited the Mannar, Vavuniya and Batticaloa areas of Sri Lanka.
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