On February 2nd, Pope Francis met a group of refugees from Congo and South Sudan supported by Centro Astalli, the Italian office of the Jesuit Refugee Service. He met Cedric, Mirra and Bidong.
Cedric is a refugee, he lives in Rome with his wife and three children. He used to be an actor in Congo, involved in theatre and documentary projects for the dissemination of human rights among the new generations in Kinshasa. His civic commitment forced him first to prison and then to leave his country and ask for asylum in Italy.
Mirra has subsidiary protection, five years ago she reunited with her family with her two children, both albinos, a condition that in Congo often leads to violence and discrimination.
Bidong is a refugee from South Sudan, raised since he was 9 years old in a refugee camp in Ethiopia, where he was forced to flee because of the war. He arrived in Rome thanks to a university corridor in the framework of the UNICORE project promoted by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency in collaboration with Centro Astalli, among others. Today he is studying at the Sapienza University of Rome Cooperation for Development.
The Holy Father greeted the refugees and was happy to be able to meet them and their families. It was a significant moment before a journey in which once again Pope Francis put the focus on crisis areas from which thousands of people flee every day in search of salvation. After the meeting with Centro Astalli in Rome, Pope Francis headed to an apostolic journey to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.
JRS works in both Congo and South Sudan offering accompaniment to displaced people and refugees, particularly in the field of school and university education.