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Features \ Asia features

Jesuit Fr. Cedric Prakash on‎ JRS in the Middle ‎East, part 2

Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ playing with  children in a refugee centre in the Middle East. - RV

Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ playing with children in a refugee centre in the Middle East. - RV

14/04/2016 15:19

Fr. Cedric Prakash, an Indian Jesuit priest and committed human rights activist, is the Regional ‎Advocacy & Communications Officer of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) for the Middle ‎East & North ‎Africa (MENA) Region, based in Beirut, Lebanon.   Belonging to the Gujarat Jesuit Province of India, ‎Fr. Cedric was until recently directing "Prashant", a Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace, ‎which he founded in 2001 in Ahmedabad.   He has been at the forefront on issues related to human ‎rights, justice, peace and other advocacy matters for which he has been honoured both in India and ‎abroad.  Notable among these is the Knighthood of the Legion of Honour, one of France’s highest ‎civilian awards  conferred on him in 2006. ‎

Fr. Cedric was recently on a visit to the Jordanian capital Amman in his capacity as the Regional ‎Advocacy & Communications Officer for JRS MENA.  We managed to catch up with him on his mobile ‎phone to know about his new assignment.  Last week, in the first part of this telephone interview, Fr. ‎Cedric explained his switch from the founder and director of “Prashant” in Ahmedabad, India,  to the ‎Regional Advocacy & Communications Officer of JRS MENA, in Beirut, Lebanon.  The 64-year old ‎Jesuit said it was the outcome of his admiration for late Jesuit superior general, Fr. Pedro Aruppe who ‎started the Jesuit Refugee Service in 1980 to meet the emergency of the boat people of south-east Asia, ‎and a long and difficult process of discernment to discover God’s will, to which Fr. Cedric said “yes”.    ‎He said his job at JRS MENA with refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Turkey, includes ‎highlighting advocacy issues at different fora, such as with the media, like-minded individuals and ‎groups, concerned governments, etc… At the time of his visit to Amman, he had visited some 25 ‎refugees centres in the Middle East region.   He said many of these refugees and internally displaced ‎people are in makeshift centres, illegally rented  apartments, dormitories, in the open fields or in ‎officially-recognized refugee camps.  Fr. Cedric said they suffer exclusion and lack of integration, ‎manifested in restrictions in employment, formal education and movement; lack of food, safe drinking ‎water, sanitation and medical care, and exploitation and abuse.   Besides stories of trauma, pain and ‎suffering, Fr. Cedric also comes across heroic models of resilience and hope.  He said he was ‎particularly moved to tears to see a mother of 4 little girls, abandoned by her husband, struggling to ‎give her children a better tomorrow.  ‎

Today, in the final of this 2-part telephone interview, we asked Fr. Cedric about the humanitarian ‎assistance of JRS MENA, besides advocacy, counselling and show of solidarity. ‎

Listen:  

14/04/2016 15:19