Unfortunately, in the Strait of Malacca, we are seeing history repeat itself with an estimated 8,000 people recently stranded at sea. This current crisis of the Rohingya and other displaced people is reminiscent of the crisis of the Vietnamese boat people in the 1980s, which drove Pedro Arrupe SJ to found Jesuit Refugee Service. So now we much ask ourselves, how will we respond today to the needs of these newly displaced people? 

Looking at the current state of refugees in the Asia Pacific we have yet to see a solution to this regional and global problem. As our world becomes increasingly globalized, the crisis of the Rohingya raises a critical question: how do we address the lack of coherent policies, and in turn, lack of action, which is leaving those most in need with a dim light, or no light at all, to guide them.

Accompaniment is an essential element of the mission and methodology of JRS. To accompany means to be a companion. We are companions of Jesus, so we wish to be companions of those with whom he preferred to be associated, the poor and the outcast. To accompany is a practical and effective action.

Not infrequently accompaniment is precisely the way in which protection is given. It is a way to 'internationalize' a situation. Presence can be a sign. That a free person chooses willingly and faithfully to accompany those who are not free, who had no choice about being there, is itself a sign, a way of eliciting hope. 

Our accompaniment affirms that God is present in human history, even in its most tragic episodes. We experience this presence. God does not abandon us. As pastoral workers, we focus on this vision, and are not side-tracked by political maneuverings and ethnic divisions, whether they are among the refugees or among the agencies and governments who decide their fate.

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