Contributing to an international debate on JRS?s mandate: Should it comprise refugees and IDPs?

One of the priorities to be discussed at the forthcoming GC 35 is the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS). Through its excellent service to refugees who cross international boundaries, JRS has set an example for many others in this field. This service is of increasing importance because the number of conflicts in the world is growing. The essential question being asked is this: Would it be possible for the work of JRS to be extended beyond international refugees to assist internally displaced persons (IDPs)? These are persons who have been displaced because of natural disasters, conflicts or development projects but have not crossed national borders. Their number rises to cross the million mark each year as human interventions compound the effects of natural disasters through climate change and deforestation. Ethnic and religious violence adds to the number of those who may be called Conflict IDPS, many of them from the weakest sections of society. But by far the largest and most neglected group comprise ?Development-Induced IDPs?, who are driven from their homes by development projects such as special economic zones (SEZ), mega-dams, mines and superhighways. The gain from these projects goes to the affluent middle class, and awareness of the voiceless displaced is low even among Jesuits. JRS, overworked and understaffed, cannot be expected to take on more, but it is a beacon of inspiration, showing what Jesuits can do beyond relief and rehabilitation. Going to the underlying causes of disasters and conflicts, joining justice- based peace initiatives, data generation and awareness-building are tasks that Jesuits, following the JRS model, can make their own.