Where we work

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. 


JRS Region Map View Latin America/Caribbean Region View USA Region View Europe Region View West Africa Region View Southern Africa Region View Great Lakes Africa Region View Eastern Africa Region View International Office View Middle East Region View South Asia Region View Asia Pacific Region
Eastern Africa Return to All Regions
Press Contact Regional Office
Phone +254 20 3874152
Email easternafrica@jrs.net
Website http://www.jrsea.org
Description In Eastern Africa, home to large refugee populations, JRS is active in camps, cities and areas of return in four countries. In the capitals of Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda, JRS feels increasingly called to help urban refugees, whose predicament poses huge challenges in terms of numbers, poor living conditions and risks faced. At the same time, JRS carries on its long-standing commitments; one is to accompany the Southern Sudanese as they rebuild their country, with education projects reaching some 55,000 people. And in a region vulnerable not only to manmade but also natural disaster, JRS recently set up a project in camps in Dollo Ado, Ethiopia, responding to Somali refugees who fled drought and hunger in 2011.

This new work is reminiscent of the beginnings of JRS in the region; one of our earliest commitments was in Ethiopia, assisting thousands of people displaced by war and famine. The presence of JRS quickly spread across Eastern Africa, where a JRS region was established in 1990. There was no shortage of work. In the 90s, JRS responded to the needs to refugees flowing out of Sudan and escaping genocide and wars in the neighbouring Great Lakes region, among others. The education programme in Uganda – where JRS went in 1993 – would become one of the largest ever of JRS.

As peace dawned in southern Sudan and northern Uganda, JRS adapted its projects to respond in the best possible way to the needs created by changing circumstances. When Sudanese refugees returned home, JRS expanded its work in southern Sudan to embrace returnees as well as IDPs – large education projects are under way, pastoral care and peace-building. JRS also offers adult literacy classes in Mellit, Darfur. And in northern Uganda, JRS now accompanies people returning to their villages after years of internal displacement due to the conflict between the army and the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). Reconciliation plays a key role in this work.

Elsewhere, in countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia and Eritrea, chronic conflicts, persecution or drought continue to push thousands of people to flee. Many refugee camps are overcrowded, and more and more asylum seekers are heading for cities – in Nairobi alone, there are 100,000 refugees – where they constantly face protection risks and poor living conditions.

JRS has well-established projects in Nairobi, Kampala and Addis Ababa, welcoming urban refugees and offering language classes and other educational and recreational initiatives, income-generating activities, emergency aid, legal and social services.

For several years, JRS has run projects in Kakuma camp, north-western Kenya, focusing on education, counselling, and care for people with special needs and survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. In 2010, Kakuma became one of the pilot sites for an exciting distance-education project launched by JRS in partnership with Jesuit universities in the US.

In 2010 and 2011, JRS started working in two other camp settings, both in Ethiopia: Mai-Aini camp for Eritrean refugees, and the camps at Dollo Ado, mentioned above.
Countries Ethiopia
Kenya
South Sudan
Uganda