Fr. Pedro Arrupe founded the Jesuit Refugee Service in 1980, in response to the human tragedy of refugees.
The perilous journeys to exile of the Vietnamese boat people deeply moved Fr Pedro Arrupe, then the Father General of the Society of Jesus. Although the Vietnam War ended in 1975, it was not until 1979 that great numbers of people began to leave the country, most making clandestine, risky journeys at sea. Fr Arrupe appealed to some Jesuit Provincials for practical assistance. The spontaneous and generous 'first wave of action' provoked him to reflect on how much more the Society could do if its responses to this, and other contemporary crises of forced human displacement, were planned and coordinated. From that initial sentiment has grown a world-wide service to assist and serve forcibly displaced people. On the 14th of November, 1980, Fr Arrupe announced the birth of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS).
“The help needed is not only material: in a special way the Society of Jesus is being called to render a service that is human, pedagogical and spiritual.”