JRS expands refugee services in Thailand


JRS Thailand saw a 300 percent increase in the projected number of refugees in need of emergency assistance.

Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in Bangkok saw a 300 percent increase in the projected number of refugees in need of emergency assistance. Some 717 refugees received emergency assistance such as shelter, food, serious medical needs and referrals to other organizations

During a busy 2015, JRS also served almost 640 extremely vulnerable asylum seekers – 275 more than expected – with programs dedicated to improve access to primary healthcare, medical services, mental health and psychosocial support.

JRS’s casework team expanded significantly to cope with the rising demand.

JRS counsellors also noticed a significant increase in the past year of suicidal clients and an increased need for psychosocial casework. Intensive interventions for suicidal clients included emergency counselling sessions – either in person or on the phone – accompaniment to a clinic, home visits and persuading clients to maintain their medication routine.

Seventy-five percent of refugees assisted by JRS counsellors reported improved mental health after counselling.

A fatal bomb attack at a popular Bangkok shrine in August led to the tightening of security and the arrest of people authorities said were illegally in the country. In some cases, heads of families were detained, which effectively deprived their families of support and reduced them to dependency on a single parent.

JRS provided assistance through casework and financial support to family members left behind.

Many people seeking asylum requested to be relocated to surrounding cities. JRS provided those who found housing outside Bangkok with financial assistance for transportation, as well as searching for safer housing locations for the most vulnerable. For temporary relocation needs, JRS made arrangements with existing clients living who were willing to host their fellow countrymen for a short time. Some refugees eventually found permanent housing, often with relatives living in other areas of Bangkok.

To respond to increasing homelessness, JRS established an emergency shelter for those refugees with immediate housing needs to access while determining their next steps.

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