COVID-19

JRS continues to accompany displaced people during global pandemic

JRS/USA is asking for your support as we continue to accompany our forcibly displaced brothers and sisters during this time and as we look to protect our shared future. Consider a gift today.

How is COVID-19 impacting refugees?  

Refugees and displaced people are particularly vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19. They often live in overcrowded camps or urban areas with limited access to health care. Many living conditions, like camps in Kenya, Syria, or Lebanon are so crowded that “social distancing” is not possible.  

Some measures have been taken to protect refugees and limit exposure to the disease. For example, in Bangladesh, the camps have been closed to any outside visitors.  

It is unclear how much the disease has spread in displaced populations due to lack of testing and poor health care infrastructure. According to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, of the 100 countries that had reported cases of the coronavirus as of March 10, 34 had refugee populations of over 20,000 people.

Refugees are facing other impacts. Global resettlement has been halted, borders have closed, and groups who provide aid and assistance, including Jesuit Refugee Service, have had to temporarily pause programming in an effort to protect both staff and refugees.
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How is JRS responding? 

At this time, we are closing unessential programs where people would gather, including schools in many countries where they have been closed, and are actively providing education about social distancing and hygiene methods to slow the virus. In places where the spread of COVID-19 has begun, we temporarily shut down some our programming, having staff work remotely where they can.  

We are also responding to immediate needs presented by the global pandemic, including:

  • Helping hospitals transport supplies to those in greatest need.
  • Continuing to distribute medicine, cash support, and basic needs assistance and providing other essential services while incorporating education and social distancing into these programs.
  • Continuing help for those in greatest need, especially vulnerable women who need protecting and people with special needs.
  • As much as possible, distributing hygiene supplies to both our staff on the front lines and the refugees we serve.
  • Using technology to provide legal help where offices are shut down.
  • Advocating for refugee rights and protection during this global challenge.

There is still a lot unknown about the future needs for refugees, but we do know, given the extreme vulnerability, they will exist.

What can I do to help?

Even if you are home social distancing, you can still show your support for refugees and displaced people.

Pray

Devote your prayers to these vulnerable communities, with this Rosary for the Vulnerable – a guide from JRS and other Jesuit partners to pray for those most vulnerable to suffering during htis time. 

Give

During this unprecedented time, JRS continues to accompany, serve, and advocate for refugees and displaced people. If you can, please consider a gift. Your gift today can help those most vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19. 

Read

It remains critical to be in solidarity with our displaced brothers and sisters – learning and sharing their stories. Check out Dying to Live: Stories from Refugees on the Road to Freedomand use our book discussion guide to have a virtual book club with your friends, school, or community. 

We have realized that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other.
Pope Francis

Reflections and Stories