Reconciliation

Teacher leads the students in conflict resolution in Kajokeji, South Sudan.
Teacher leads the students in conflict resolution in Kajokeji, South Sudan. (Jesuit Refugee Service)

Prompted by urgent global realities and by needs perceived among refugees and host communities, JRS has chosen reconciliation as one of the four goals of its Strategic Framework for the years 2019 to 2023.

This focus builds on JRS’s long history of building bridges through its projects and presence, and reflects the priority of the Society of Jesus to the mission of reconciliation and justice, which it describes as “the call to share God’s work of reconciliation in our broken world.”

JRS articulates reconciliation as a journey to “create right relationships” among the refugees we serve, between refugees and host communities, and among our own teams around the world. Such reconciliation is rooted in justice and sought in dialogue among diverse religions, cultures, and groups.

JRS sees the urgent need to work for reconciliation and to build social cohesion in practically all the places it is present. This need is manifested in the personal and communal impacts of the human violence that drives displacement, especially when such violence erupts in poor countries, among groups living in close proximity, and leads to long periods of communal unrest and suspicion.

On their journey to safety and once they reach a host country, many refugees face varying degrees of hostility. The lack of welcome is due to complex factors, which differ from one place to another. Conspicuous are political movements that feed on cultural and economic anxieties, policies that reflect a shift away from solidarity, justice, and human rights, and a climate marked by growing xenophobia.

The JRS mission of reconciliation unfolds differently from place to place, with a focus on building bridges through education and among youth, and on creating spaces of hospitality and welcome. Priority is given to building the capacity of communities to mobilise and work for reconciliation and social cohesion.

Our goals

  • To make the faith-based reconciliation approach an intentional and integral part of JRS mission and ministry.
  • To strengthen the capacities of JRS teams, refugees, and host communities in order to resolve conflict and address the drivers of discrimination and violence while striving for individual and communal transformation.

Why a faith-based reconciliation approach?

As a faith-based organisation, we respect the critical importance of religious beliefs in providing a strong personal and communal foundation for values and resilience, not least among refugees and in conflict settings.

The way that JRS approaches faith-based reconciliation is unique in each location. In many places, the communities consist of several different faith groups living together, where JRS facilitates inter-religious understanding. In other areas, JRS serves refugees and host communities who follow the same faith, and we encourage the groups to connect over the shared values of their religion. In all cases, JRS believes the most important value is that of respect for our common humanity above all differences.

Our Guiding Principles

The principles that guide the JRS reconciliation strategy are rooted in the perspective that refugees are on a journey that links their past, present, and future. We accompany refugees on the journey to protect their dignity and their life, and to create right relationships among themselves, with others, with God, and with creation.

guiding principles reconciliation strategy

As we encourage reconciliation articulated as “recreating right relationships”, we

  1. Recreate right relationships among JRS teams, among the refugees we serve, and between refugees and host communities.
  2. Accompany refugees on their journeys towards reconciliation, and draw on their faith as a source of meaning, resilience, motivation, and values.
  3. Prioritise the value of shared humanity by working towards deeper understanding and appreciation of both what we have in common and what makes us different.
  4. Invite participation of JRS teams and refugee and host communities, particularly of those whose voices are not usually heard, and enable such participation by helping to build confidence and capacity and by creating spaces where all can have a say.
  5. Work for justice that restores and transforms relationships and prevents recurrence of injustice. ​