JRS Australia responds to Ukraine crisis

03 March 2022

Related: Advocacy

Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Australia expresses deep concern and solidarity for the people of Ukraine, including those who have been forcibly displaced within the country and beyond.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, estimates that more than 600,000 refugees have been forced to flee Ukraine already, and that 1.4 million persons are internally displaced.

JRS Australia joins with Pope Francis in lamenting the “diabolical senselessness of violence” and in thinking of “the elderly, of those who seek refuge in these times, of mothers fleeing with their children…brothers and sisters for whom it is urgent to open humanitarian corridors and who must be welcomed.”

Serving and accompanying Ukrainian refugees across Europe

JRS is present on the ground in countries across Europe, including in countries bordering Ukraine. JRS is offering shelter and accommodation, facilitating transportation from border areas, distributing welcome packages, mediating between government and non-government stakeholders, and providing psycho-social assistance to those in need. JRS is also planning for a larger influx of refugees and developing medium and long-term plans for support in this regard.

Read the following update from JRS’ international headquarters in Rome, for further detail on our response to the crisis in Europe.

Acknowledging Australian Government’s offers of support

JRS Australia acknowledges the Australian Government’s commitment to prioritising visa applications from Ukrainians fleeing the conflict and also acknowledges its stated intention to provide refugee places in addition to Australia’s annual humanitarian intake.

Whilst these commitments are welcome, they must be applied consistently and equitably. Widespread calls for the Morrison Government to introduce a special humanitarian intake of at least 20,000 places for refugees from Afghanistan have so far gone unheeded.

As the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) has noted, Australia has cut 28,382 humanitarian visa places since mid-2019. Australia has the capacity to increase its annual humanitarian intake from 13,750 places so that it can respond more ambitiously to forced displacement crises in Ukraine, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Ethiopia, and elsewhere.

Support for those affected by the conflict in Australia

Those in Australia who are directly affected by this devastating conflict are experiencing profound uncertainty and pain.

  • Those affected by the conflict, who are in Australia, have applied for a Protection visa (onshore), and are in need of emergency relief, practical information, casework, or psycho-social support can contact the JRS Australia intake team here.
  • Those affected by the conflict, who are in Australia and are in need of legal or migration advice can find registered migration agents here. The Refugee Advice and Casework Service (RACS) has a factsheet that can be accessed here.
  • Those affected by the conflict can contact the STARTTS Witness to War Hotline for additional specialist psycho-social support.