[ SOCIAL AND PASTORAL BULLETIN No. 135 / Dec. 15 .2006 ]
JRS Asia Pacific Regional Meeting
From 16 - 19 October, the JRS Asia Pacific region held its annual general meeting in Hua Hin, three hours from the Thai capital Bangkok, to discuss and develop strategic plans for the next three years.
The participants, 52 lay-coworkers and several Jesuit staff came to Hua Hin from countries where JRS Asia Pacific is active. Participants from Indonesia, where the Tsunami two years ago and the most recent Java earthquake produced so much damage and countless victims, were numerous at the meeting.
The gathering this year concentrated on strategic planning, following strict social analysis methods with plenary sessions and group discussions. The specific objective was to finalize a strategic Planning Document to be implemented during the following years and the focus was to remain faithful to the mission of JRS: to serve, accompany and advocate for the refugees. Due to the political complexities of the region and the diversity of the programs, JRS staff was asked to consider what position JRS Asia Pacific should take to deal with the situation. The need to stay close to forcibly displaced persons and ensure that programs adopted by JRS Asia Pacific are always developed from the bottom up was often emphasized. Listening to and accompanying refugees in exile is a key quality of JRS.
In Thailand, the JRS Asia-Pacific regional office, located in Bangkok, is the headquarters for all activities with refugees and displaced persons that connects and coordinates all JRS offices in the region. At the same time, Jesuit Refugee Service Thailand runs a special unit that focuses on serving stateless persons and irregular migrants, like large numbers of hill tribe people, many of whom belong to Burma. JRS staff is also deeply involved in the Immigration Detention Center in Bangkok.

In Indonesia, JRS staff is fully dedicated to people in conflict situations, where violence becomes the greatest obstacle to human development. JRS keeps a high profile in the Moluccas and Ache. As a result of the Tsunami in the year 2004 there is about 65 JRS staff only in Ache helping with the reconstruction of vital roads and housing in devastated areas and with programs of counseling and reconciliation. In Jogjakarta a group of 25 JRS personnel works in programs to reconstruct the regions destroyed by the late big earthquake of about a year ago.
In Malaysia, there are almost 50,000 refugees registered with UNHCR. About 20,000 came from Ache (Indonesia) and the rest from various ethnic minorities of Myanmar. JRS has a small office in Malaysia and its staff struggles to help the refugees to find safe shelters in Malaysia. In fact, the options available to refugees are voluntary repatriation, local integration and resettlement to third countries. Also here, JRS staff is fully dedicated to assist irregular migrants and visit them in immigration jails, providing medical assistance.

In Cambodia, the refugee caseload is divided into urban (refugees from various countries) and montagnard (indigenous minorities from Vietnam). The government maintains different policies for the two groups. Cambodia does not have national laws protecting the rights of the refugees and asylum seekers. JRS staff works for the protection of refugees there and assists them in resettlement and repatriation, and it is very active in national and international campaigns to Ban Land mines.

In Australia, with a history of giving asylum to refugees, JRS has a special office for the caring and advocacy of refugees living in the country. It also performs active lobbying and makes valuable financial contributions to JRS Asia Pacific programs.

In Singapore and Japan, JRS profile is low. A Jesuit parish in Singapore has organized a group of lay-women that, under the name of JRS Volunteers, do publicity and funding activities around other parishes and schools to assist various programs implemented by JRS Asia Pacific. As for Japan, the Jesuit Social Center (Tokyo) is the contact JRS office that provides information in Japan on JRS and cooperates on projects, like national campaigns to Ban Land Mines and supports programs in Bangkok’s immigration detention jail or reconstruction projects in post-Tsunami Ache. This center also works for the rights of irregular migrants in Japan.

Ando Isamu, sj, (Jesuit Social Center, Tokyo)
HEADLINES, November 2006

North South Asian Peoples' Initiatives (SAPI) in India Social Forum (ISF) Delhi
SAPI participation in the ISF Delhi was opened officially on 9 November 2006 under the slogan 'Another world is possible'. The 1,150 SAPI delegates were reminded that this social forum was to move people into Afro-Asian understanding and collaboration in seeking social justice for their own people.
Argentina: Developing New Management Processes
A project named 'Institutional strengthening of Jesuit Works in Argentina' sponsored by MAGIS Venezuela, was started this year. Its aim is to strengthen social works by developing and transferring to leaders the management capacities and tools needed to construct new organizational networking policies. The overall aim is to visualize the reinforcement of seven different works in the Social Sector in their management processes - preferably internal - and create a Social Sector Network for the Society in Argentina.
Cambodia Jesuit Services
Development work in war-torn Cambodia has been taken up by Jesuit Services, a Jesuit-sponsored NGO under the able leadership of Sister Denise Coughlan, which provides direct assistance to the victims of anti-personnel landmines.

Beyond Scarcity: Water for the Poor
A recent UNDP report reveals that 2.4 billion people worldwide do not have access to safe sanitation, and that water-borne diseases such as diarrhea kill far more people than HIV/AIDS and malaria combined. In many areas very poor people pay more per liter for private water supplies than in New York or London. In addition to the loss of life and health costs, the time spent collecting water has huge economic effects. A project begun in Tanzania could be a small step forward towards a safe and inexpensive method of sterilizing water. Villagers fill plastic bottles with contaminated water and place them on black-painted roofs. After eight hours in the sun, the water is safe to drink.

[HEADLINES issues are available at http://www.sjweb.info/sjs]
Fernando Franco SJ, Publisher Social Justice Secretariat, C.P. 6139, 00195 Roma Prati, ITALY
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