Today, the he vision of JRS Belgium is inspired by two eminent personalities:
“First for ourselves, but also others, it is important that we look at a migrant and a refugee not only as a problem that we need to solve. We must see them as a brother and a sister to welcome, respect and love. We can also see them as an opportunity that the Providence is giving us to build a fairer society, a more achieved democracy, a country that shows solidarity, a world of fraternity, and a more open Christian community in accordance with the Gospel.”
Pope Francis at the occasion of the Migrant and Refugee World Day of 2013.
Also today, Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, and Pedro Arrupe S.J. invites us to look at the world in a spiritual way. “We see how different people can be through clothing and behaviours: some are white, others are black. Some live in peace, others are at war. Some are crying, some are laughing. Some are healthy, others are sick. There are those who are being born and those who are dying.” (Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises)
Due to increased mobility and better communication means our world is growing closer together. But whilst goods and money are freely moving around global markets, this does not apply to people. Many racial, cultural, religious, political, and economic boundaries persist; the gap separating the poor from the rich is only widening. Because of unequal structures, a quarter of humanity is living on the edge, fighting to survive and to keep some dignity.
Already excluded from the benefits of economical and technological progress, the poor are the victims of war, climate change and failed states. They are the ones having to leave their homes. More than 15 million amongst them are refugees and more than 25 million are displaced within their own country.
More than ever, refugees and asylum seekers are facing the walls and barriers of exclusion in Europe and other rich parts of our planet. In an environment that is increasingly becoming more hostile towards migrants and refugees, they are even deprived of the right to security. Their despair is a threat to our world’s future. The harsh reality of forced displacement is a serious concern for us – we, Jesuits, secular and religious people in the JRS.
For more than 30 years already, the JRS accompanies displaced people, accompanying them, serving them humbly whilst advocating for their rights to protection and justice. In the years to come we will continue to serve refugees who are forced to live on the fringe of humanity.
Excerpt from a letter written by Peter Balleis S.J., international director, Jesuit Refugee Service.