Dhaka (Agenzia Fides) - "Although much has changed in the last 40 years, our mission to accompany, serve and defend refugees and displaced persons remains the same and remains a necessary and precious service in Asia, where it all began": said Jesuit Father Pradeep Perez, who works in Bangladesh as a member of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) team, to Agenzia Fides, which celebrated its 40th anniversary in the work of accompanying refugees and migrants around the world.
JRS, which was born precisely as a response to an international crisis on the Asian continent and today works in Bangladesh with Rohingya refugees under the guidance and supervision of Fr. Jerry Gomes SJ and Fr. Francis Dores SJ. "JRS is dedicated to protecting the most vulnerable and advocates the rights of refugees in Bangladesh, in many other Asian countries and around the world", notes Father Perez. "We at JRS speak the language of social justice for the rights of refugees and recognize our vocation as people of faith in accompanying and serving them on the path of protecting and promoting their human dignity", said the priest.
"In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, the various JRS teams in various Asian countries have stepped up their commitment and continue to stand on the side of refugees and accompany them through the process of humanitarian support and human advancement… This happens when there are humanitarian disasters or episodes of crisis, but also and above all when all the lights of international attention go off and these people are forgotten by the governments, as is the case for Rohingya Muslims, who fled from Myanamar to Bangladesh. In such situations we remain faithful to our mission", he adds.
As Fr. Perez emphasizes, JRS ensures that refugees have the opportunity to obtain a qualified education and learn to deal with their sources of income, to protect themselves from dangers and to receive material, psychological and spiritual support in order to be able to become independent citizens in the future to be integrated in different socio-economic contexts.
JRS was founded 40 years ago, on November 14, 1980, by Father Pedro Arrupe, former Superior General of the Society of Jesus. The Jesuit order in Asia wanted to give an answer to the humanitarian crisis of the Vietnamese boat refugees, which took shape with the foundation of the aid organization. Father Arrupe commissioned a first team of four to look after Vietnamese refugees.
Today, JRS, which is headquartered in Rome and serves 725,000 refugees around the world and is represented with its local teams in 56 countries around the world. (SD-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 16/11/2020)