JRS East Africa, Who we are?

JRS East Africa
5 min readFeb 25, 2021

The Jesuit Refugee Service in East Africa Region, its activities and programs.

The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) is an international Catholic organization founded in 1980 by the Society of Jesus as a practical and spiritual response to the suffering of the refugees at the time. Today JRS is active in more than 56 countries, with the mission of accompanying, serving and defending the rights of refugees, internally displaced persons and anyone obliged to leave their homes forcefully. The main areas of intervention are: education, emergency, health care, sustenance activities, psychosocial support, inter-religious dialogue, promotion and safeguarding of rights.

In the East Africa Region we are present in 4 countries, namely: Ethiopia, South Sudan, Uganda and Kenya.


JRS Ethiopia has well-established projects welcoming refugees in both urban and camp settings, more specifically in Addis Ababa; Mai-Aini and Adi-Harush camps in Tigray; and Melkadida and Kobe camps in Somali.

JRS Ethiopia’s services include education, recreational and youth empowerment, child protection, livelihood support, emergency assistance, and psychosocial support.

One of JRS’ projects in Ethiopia is the Refugee Community Centres (RCC) — unique facilities that serve as havens for refugees and asylum seekers in Addis Ababa and refugee camps. At the RCCs, refugees receive educational and psychosocial support, library and recreational services, socialise, and build relationships with members of the refugee and host communities.

Being Ethiopia one of the largest refugee hosting countries in Africa due to its location (bordering country with Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Eriteria), our duty in the country is required and essential. Despite the recent instability in the country making our work more complex than it already is, the duty and commitment of our staff at JRS Ethiopia has resulted on the efficient and continuous accompaniment and support for thousands of beneficiaries over last years.

Contact: ethiopia.director@jrs.net

South Sudan

Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) has been working in Sudan and Southern Sudan since 1997 in the area of education, pastoral care, peace building and reconciliation. As peace dawned in Sudan in 2005 JRS adapted its work to respond to the changing circumstances supporting refugee return from neighbouring countries, and movement of internally displaced persons through education projects, pastoral care, peace building and reconciliation work for some years. After a vote for independence in 2011 the new State of South Sudan was established JRS ceased operations in accordance with its mandate. After civil war broke out in 2013 operations were restarted. Currently JRS South Sudan operates large integrated programmes of work, focused on providing education and psycho-social and pastoral support.

JRS South Sudan is currently present in Maban (northern South Sudan) and in Yambio (southern South Sudan). Despite also working with refugees coming from neighboring countries, due to the recent conflict in the country, a big amount of the beneficiaries served by JRS in South Sudan are Internally Displaced People (IDPs) who had to re-settle running form violence and insecurity.

JRS SS offers different kind of services to accompany refugees, IDPs, returnees and host community in an ever more conflict sensitive and gender responsive manner.
In Maban, JRS provides a variety of programs such as: training for teachers, school materials, a daycare for disabled children, home visits, counseling, and emergency assistance. JRS Maban also coordinates social centers for refugee women while providing them opportunities to learn tailoring, life skills, and gain psychosocial support.

In Yambio, JRS provides education scholarships to girls attending secondary school, sanitary kits to young women attending school, and teacher training scholarships to assist with diplomas and education degrees. JRS also provides a community and school-based peace building initiative that uses mediation and workshops for encouraging reconciliation rather than violence.


JRS Uganda has been active sine 1993. It is currently present in the capital city Kampala and in Adjumani, Moyo and Obongi Districts in Northern Uganda at the border to South Sudan. We work both with urban and settlement-based refugees coming from neighboring countries like Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan or Burundi among others.

We have a well-established project welcoming urban refugees in Kampala and a long-standing history working with South Sudanese refugees in the North.

In Kampala, JRS offers English language classes, child care and scholarship programs, income-generating activities, basic needs and psychosocial services. The main component is the holistic livelihoods program including soft skills, business skills training, internship placement, business grants and mentorship program. In Adjumani, JRS begins its sixth year of return since 2016. JRS is focusing on filling the huge gap in secondary education through implementing scholarship program, school construction, teacher training, provision of textbooks, scholastic and hygiene material. JRS is also implementing livelihoods, peacebuilding and pastoral activities and is piloting mental health and psychosocial support interventions in primary and secondary schools.

JRS Uganda is composed of a diverse team with broad experience serving more than 12,000 refugees and asylum seekers every year.

Contact: uganda.director@jrs.net ; info.uganda@jrs.net


JRS Kenya is present in Kakuma Refugee Camp (northern Kenya) and in Nairobi. We work both with urban refugees and with refugees in the camp, following the principles of Accompanying, Serving, and Defending refugee’s rights in all our activities.

Taking into account that Kenya is one of the countries in Africa with the biggest number of refugees (nearly 0,5 Million by January 2020) due to its peaceful nature and stability, our duty in the country is vast and very much required.

With urban refugees we have different program including secondary and tertiary education sponsoring, business opportunities as well as grants, loans or trainings, and an open-door policy to attend any need of emergency support or counseling.

With refugees at Kakuma Camp we have a special focus on Special Needs education and treatment, as well as we offer protection services and livelihood opportunities through different kinds of training.

Every year at JRS Kenya we accompany and serve thousands of refugees both direct and indirectly, making of our duty a life-changing opportunity for the most vulnerable refugees in the country and they close families.

Contact: Ken01.director@jrs.net ; jrsearcomms@jrs.net



JRS East Africa

Jesuit Refugee Service, with the goal of accompanying, serving and advocating for forcefully displaced people in Ethiopia, South Suda, Uganda and Kenya.