JRS Middle East and North Africa is the newest region of the Jesuit Refugee Service, an international Catholic organization sponsored by the Society of Jesus. Initially established in the Middle East to meet the needs of Iraqi refugees, JRS regionally now works predominantly with Syrians — both inside and outside of Syria. It offers a wide range of services, namely: emergency support in the form of food aid, shelter, non-food items, hygiene kits and basic medical support to people with chronic and terminal illnesses. Other services include educational and psychosocial support, especially to Syrian children, legal and medical referrals, family visits, and small livelihood projects.
The conflict in Syria has displaced more than 12 million people – 3.8 million to neighbouring countries – and resulted in more than 220,000 deaths. More than half of the Syrian population are in need of assistance. Approximately 242,000 Syrians currently live in areas besieged by the government or opposition forces.
In Iraq, 1.5 million have been internally displaced following the expansion of ISIS in 2014. In Ankawa and Ozal, JRS serves displaced families through home visits, psychosocial support and education. Diverse JRS work with Yazidis, Muslim and Christian Iraqis who are seeking safety in and around Erbil, northern Iraq.
Working in cooperation with Jesuit networks, Muslim and other Christian entities, and secular organisations, JRS teams ensure civilians receive much needed support; however, this assistance is not sufficient to meet the escalating needs.
In total, JRS serves more than 490,000 people in Syria and Iraq. JRS teams also work in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey providing urgent assistance and educational and psychosocial support to different refugee and internally displaced communities.