Today March 15th is a significant day for all us in the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) of the MENA Region. On this day, exactly six years ago, war broke out in Syria. It has been a time of great suffering for the Syrian people – thousands have been killed and many millions have been displaced from towns and villages, which they once called their home. Millions from these have sought refuge in neighbouring countries of the region and in some faraway ones too.
JRS has worked with much dedication for the Syrian displaced and refugees these past six years. We have served those who needed our help immediately; we have accompanied people through their suffering and trauma and we have done all we could to advocate for their rights.
It has not been an easy time, but much positive work has been done. This is largely due to our colleagues and collaborators on the field in Syria, who have responded so heroically to the realities there in the face of great personal risks and many other difficulties. Besides, our colleagues and collaborators in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey are doing plenty to respond to the Syrian refugees through educational programs, life-skills training, family visits, psychosocial and health care, providing monetary and necessary material help. Thousands of Syrians have benefited from the JRS programmes these past years. We are very grateful to our many generous partners from all over, for making our work possible.
It has also been a learning process for us. In the midst of violence and hate, divisiveness and discrimination, suffering and trauma – there are children, women and men who think differently and are determined to live a better life. They have hope; they dream of a more constructive and positive tomorrow. They have much to teach us. In order to celebrate these glimmers of hope, these little lights in the overwhelming darkness, we launch today, together with the JRS International Office, a Campaign for the Syrian refugees and displaced which primarily focuses on Hope and Resilience.
Many from our Country, Regional and International Offices have been preparing and are engaged in this Campaign: we are grateful to all of them We invite all women and men of goodwill, to support us in this Campaign. The hope and prayer of the Syrian displaced and refugee, is that peace and stability returns to the land they love so much. May this JRS Campaign of Hope and Resilience be one small but significant step, towards the realisation of that goal.
Fr. Michael Zammit sj