The 2014 Pax Christi International Peace Award was granted to the Jesuit Refugee Service Syria last night at St Joseph’s church in Sarajevo. The celebration formed part of the Sarajevo Peace Event 2014 which has been taking place throughout the city of Sarajevo this weekend. The ceremony was celebrated by an international community of members and partners of Pax Christi, those who have attended the Sarajevo Peace Event, and people from the local community. The Ceremony was centred around performances by the Pontanima choir, who received the award themselves three year ago for their work to bring reconciliation to Sarajevo and the region as a whole. They are an interreligious, intercultural choir who performed for us a ‘symphony of religions and cultures’.
Jesuit Refugee Service began working in the Middle East and North Africa in 2008 in response to the large number of displaced people as a result of conflict in the region. In 2011 JRS Syria began to focus on providing support for those in their own country who were suffering at the hands of the emerging violence in Syria. They now provide support to over 300,000 people in Syria. They work to accompany, serve and defend the rights of the poor in Syria by providing food, hygiene essentials, basic healthcare, shelter management and rent support. They work to provide educational and psychosocial support to almost 10,000 women and children.
JRS Syria has been recognised for its interfaith work. They provide support to everyone and anyone in need. Their team is made up of people of different nationalities, culture and religions also. JRS Syria is striving to promote the rejection of the logic of war, of the perversion of religions to turn people against one another and the spread of fear of the ‘other’.
The work of JRS Syria is helping vulnerable people across Syria survive despite the violence that surrounds them. Their message is that we all should open our doors to one another, foster respect and love in our communities, and realise that we can live together, we do not need to be afraid of one another.
The Peace Award acknowledges the work of JRS Syria and symbolically acknowledges the work of all women and men who work compassionately to serve their fellow Syrians suffering as an consequence of the civil war.
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