South Asia: Our work in 2010
06 July 2011

In the village of Herat, JRS focused on health, education and income generation in 2010. Photo by Peter Balleis/JRS International
At the end of 2010, there were more than 70,300 Sri Lankan refugees living in camps scattered across Tamil Nadu in southern India.
New Delhi, 4 July 2011 – In 2010, JRS South Asia continued its rich tradition of serving forcibly displaced people, choosing as a priority those most vulnerable and most discriminated against. Due to the nature of the situation, the programme in Sri Lanka continues to be the main concern of JRS South Asia. 

A team in Sri Lanka responded to people affected by war and disaster, forging ahead despite many constraints. Following closely on this is the JRS Tamil Nadu programme, implemented in camps housing more than 70,000 Sri Lankan refugees in India. 

Supplementary education plays a major role in this intervention, along with other capacity- building programmes. Afghanistan is emerging as another focus area of JRS. When the Jesuit Provincial of South Asia, the JRS International Director and I visited Afghanistan in September, it was decided that the Jesuit mission outreach there will become a fully fledged JRS programme in 2011. Meanwhile, JRS has been accompanying the Bhutanese refugees in Nepal and has been doing its utmost to help those who have opted for third-country resettlement.

Despite many challenges, JRS draws plenty of strength and sustenance in these tasks. We express our gratitude to the people who give us the opportunity to accompany them, to the staff who carry out the mission very well, to our benefactors, well-wishers and partner organisations. 

A team of South Asian Jesuits, serving under the banner of JRS in Afghanistan, accompanied returnees and implemented education initiatives. In the returnee township of Sohadat, near Herat city, JRS ran a school, a clinic and livelihood programmes. In Herat and Bamiyan, members of JRS lectured at university and conducted English language classes and teacher-training; the latter activity was extended to Daikundi.

Resettlement, a durable solution. In 2010, the resettlement of Bhutanese refugees continued: nearly 15,000 left the camps in eastern Nepal, bringing to over 40,400 the total of refugees resettled since the start of the process in early 2008. Consequently the number of students and teachers on the Bhutanese Refugee Education Programme (BREP), run by JRS for Caritas Nepal, dropped and new teachers had to be recruited and trained.

In 2010, the government of Sri Lanka continued to release Tamil civilians from camps in which they had been housed after they fled the last round of the island’s civil war, which ended in mid-2009. However many remained in IDP camps. Those who could, returned home or resettled, but many still lived in fear and in want. Present across seven districts in the north-east, JRS served IDPs and returnees by organising emergency aid, social services and community development, education and livelihood activities. Individual accompaniment was an integral part of the JRS presence.

At the end of 2010, there were more than 70,300 Sri Lankan refugees living in camps scattered across Tamil Nadu in southern India. The end of war in Sri Lanka did not prompt large-scale returns. While continuing its long-running education and community development services in the camps, JRS sought to encourage healthy debate about possible durable solutions among the refugees.

Louis Prakash SJ, former JRS South Asia Director

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