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 global pandemic. Consider a gift today.
Following guidance from elected and public health officials in the Washington, D.C. area the JRS staff continues to work remotely for the safety of our team and community. Due to mail delays and remote capabilities, the process of receiving donations and managing acknowledgments is taking longer than normal. We appreciate your patience and understanding. If you need immediate information, please contact: Kevin.Reber@jrsusa.org
How is COVID impacting refugees?
Refugees and displaced people are particularly vulnerable to the spread of COVID and its’ accompanying variants. They often live in overcrowded camps or urban areas with limited access to health care and vaccination opportunities. 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.
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.
Give to COVID-19 Response and Recovery Now
How is JRS responding?
We are distributing food, emergency supplies, and hygiene kits, much needed in places like Uganda, Iraq and Venezuela. We have been installing hand-washing stations in camps with limited sanitation, raising awareness around COVID prevention and social distancing within the displaced communities, and working to provide access to vaccinations.
Jesuit Refugee Service has played a key role in vaccine promotion across multiple countries and project sites, including in Iraq, South Africa, Angola, and the United States. In the northern Kurdistan region of Iraq, JRS is sharing information through public awareness campaigns to encourage greater vaccination among the displaced Yazidi population.
In the United States, JRS is proud to partner with the Catholic Cares Coalition, a group of Catholic non-profits dedicated to promoting acceptance of vaccines and equitable distribution of vaccines in the U.S. and globally as a reflection of the Catholic commitment to solidarity and charity.
We continue to accompany the most vulnerable by offering psychosocial support and counseling by phone and messaging platforms, as well as casework and legal assistance.
Most of our education and training programs transitioned to distance learning using online and mobile learning platforms. In Lebanon, classes are held via WhatsApp groups, with teachers sending short videos, voice recordings, and pictures of exercises that could be done at home. In South Sudan, we are offering teacher training via Microsoft Teams and large TV screens. Where such resources are not available, like in Afghanistan and in the Central African Republic, radio, podcasts, DVDs, and learning packets have also been utilized as effective means of continued learning for marginalized communities.
For JRS Pathfinder, our post-secondary education and training program, we distributed laptops and data bundles to the students in Dzaleka refugee camp in Malawi, so they can connect from home and continue improving their digital skills. Many of our livelihoods programs have also adapted to the market and are making facemasks.
What can I do to help?
Even if you are home social distancing, you can still show your support for refugees and displaced people.
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.
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.
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 Freedom, and use our book discussion guide to have a virtual book club with your friends, school, or community.