Brussels, 1 November 2014 – After an intense two-month handover, Jean-Marie Carrière SJ, takes over the reins of the Jesuit Refugee Service Europe network as Regional Director from Michael Schöpf SJ.
Fr Carrière arrives in Brussels from Paris where he was Bible Professor at the Centre Sèvres. JRS is by no means new for him as he was the country director of JRS France between 2006 and 2012. He brings with him a great deal of experience in leading projects and deep insight into the plight of forced migrants in Europe.
In France, he led in the creation of the Welcome Project which sees local families and communities opening their doors for refugees to stay with them for various lengths of time. The project began with just three people in Paris in 2009 and today is a 300-strong network in 15 cities all over France.
With a view to the challenges ahead and the particularly desperate situation of refugees in the world today, Fr Carrière states: “Looking at people in the Bible, we see that they know how to face a crisis. It is not so much about finding a solution to the problems of the time, but more about making decisions that meet the crisis. Human fulfilment lies in the joy that is offered when a solution is finally reached.”
After ten years at JRS Europe, the last six years as regional director, Br Schöpf strengthened collaboration amongst JRS offices across Europe and oversaw many important research projects. He shaped together with the country offices the three main advocacy areas of JRS in Europe (detention, destitution and access to protection) and started professional communications work at regional level.
“It was an extremely creative time and a time of deep human experience,” says Br Schöpf. “I leave JRS Europe with a feeling of great gratitude. So many people entrusted me with their pain and their hope for a better future. Together we challenged ourselves to fully develop our potential as human beings.”
JRS Europe advocates for the respectful and fair treatment of all migrants affected by European policy, and defends their access to procedures that guarantee the basic rights enshrined in international law. We engage in advocacy at European Union level and ensure that policymakers hear refugees’ voices.
The regional office facilitates a network of JRS offices through common planning and project work. In 12 EU countries, as well as in Ukraine, Macedonia and Kosovo, JRS gives direct support to forced migrants and refugees, especially those who are forgotten and in most urgent need. JRS Europe has several projects to assist asylum seekers and other forced migrants in detention as well as community initiatives promoting hospitality and social inclusion.