West and Central Asia
Our involvement in West and Central Asia comes in two forms.
Firstly we are engaged in relief work in the Middle East where we have responded regularly to the crises of the last decade. We have worked particularly with refugees in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.
Secondly and perhaps more unusually is our long standing relationship with the Catholic Church in Kyrgyzstan. In an overwhelmingly Muslim country, the Jesuits have been entrusted to administer the region.
We have engaged with the Jesuits in Kyrgyzstan through supporting their youth initiatives and until recently sent volunteers to assist on holiday camps for children and young adults.
Our partner Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Jordan in Amman is currently supporting refugees from Sudan, Syria, Somalia, Egypt, Iraq and Yemen. During the past year they have been responding to the many uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic and in particular the effect that lockdowns have had on the already precarious income of many refugees.
Supported by Jesuit Missions UK, JRS Jordan has so far helped more than 200 vulnerable Jordanian and refugee families by providing monthly food and hygiene baskets. These include 4kg bags of rice and sugar, and cans of beans and tuna. They have also been contributing to the national awareness effort on Covid-19 with hygiene packs consisting of hand sanitiser, surface cleaners, face masks and gloves. Each package comes with safety with instructions for food safety and sanitation best practices
Ibrahim is a Sudanese father of 32 years’ old who has been living in Jordan since 2018 and received the JRS Covid-19 aid packages at the beginning of July. He told JRS, ‘The pandemic worsened our situation because it isolated us from the rest of the society for a long time, we were bored of spending all the time inside the house and the lockdown impacted our mental health… Me and my family were very happy to have received the JRS Covid-19 aid package, there were food and hygiene products. My children were very happy once they opened and package and saw the content. Finally, we shared a nice moment of joy. Thus, I am very grateful for what JRS did for us.’
Since April 2021 there has been a conflict taking place on the Kyrgyz-Tajik border. For many children this has created a traumatic experience.
Jesuit Missions was thus pleased to help fund a 10 day holiday for 17 vulnerable children from villages surrounding the conflict. The week acted as a respite and fun break where the children had an opportunity to play sports, go to the beach and go on trips (including to the zoo!).
Once the children returned home the local state authority expressed through a thank you letter their appreciation for the Jesuits initiative in hosting the holiday.