In 1980 a great number of Vietnamese fled their war-torn country. The horrible situation of those Vietnamese “boat people” prompted Father Pedro Arrupe S.J. to act. As superior general of the Society of Jesus, he called on the Jesuits to “at least bring some solace in such a tragic situation”. That is how the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) was born, a global response to a refugee crisis in Asia.
Father Eddy Jadot S.J. quickly responded to Pedro Arrupe S.J.’s call. “I felt the need not to abandon to the streets or some kind of jails those who came asking for protection and asylum”.
JRS Belgium was born out of the cooperation of people who took up the cause of those living on the edge and at the borders of our society. By organising a pragmatic response to the critical situation in Namur during the eighties, Father Jadot, S.J. supported by Xavier Dijon S.J. and a few others, set up local activities to help refugees.
From 1988 onwards, Father Jadot formally received the mandate to dedicate his work to refugees and forced migrants. Thus, he founded JRS EUROPE in 1992, which was set up as an international organization, legally recognized by the European institutions.
As the number of refugees arriving in Belgium continued to increase, the then Jesuit Fathers of the Flemish provinces and the Southern part of the country requested that a Belgian bilingual section of the JRS be created in Brussels: the Jesuit Refugee Service Belgium. Under the management of Father Eddy Jadot, the JRS initiatives in Brussels, Flanders, and Wallonia were brought together in a single Belgian office. Soon after, visits to refugees and forced migrants in closed detention centres became a focal point.