The mission of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA is to accompany, serve and advocate for the rights of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons.
JRS works in more than 50 countries worldwide to meet the educational, health, social and other needs of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons. JRS services are made available to refugees and displaced persons regardless of their race, ethnic origin, or religious beliefs.
In the late 1970s, Fr. Pedro Arrupe, then Superior General of the Society of Jesus, was moved by the perilous journeys to exile of the Vietnamese boat people. Although the Vietnam War had ended in 1975, it was not until 1979 that great numbers of people began to leave the country and seek refugee elsewhere through clandestine, risky journeys by sea.
At that time Fr. Arrupe appealed to Jesuit major superiors for practical assistance. The spontaneous and generous ‘first wave of action’ provoked him to reflect on how much more the Society of Jesus could do if its responses to this, and to other contemporary crises of forced human displacement, were planned and coordinated. From that initial sentiment has grown a world-wide service to forcibly displaced people. On November 14, 1980, Fr. Arrupe announced the birth of Jesuit Refugee Service.
The history of JRS is about the lives and hopes of people we know personally. This personal knowledge constantly transforms our understanding. JRS opens a door — beyond transitory and shocking images — into the inspiring lives of people struggling to defend their rights, protect their families and give their children a future.