In humanitarian situations, small gestures of compassion, respect, hospitality and friendship can go a long way. A recent article in Forced Migration Review shows that while evidence-based service delivery is crucial in addressing the immediate humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable, large-scale relief operations should also be guided by human approaches that prioritize personal accompaniment and empowerment. The authors articulate this approach as “evidence-informed mission work”.

Faith-based organizations, such as Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), that uphold the value of personal accompaniment provide a unique type of humanitarian service that goes beyond traditional service delivery programs. For JRS, accompaniment “is defined by a cluster of attitudes and values: solidarity, hope, respect and dignity, friendship, open listening, hospitality, string for justice, and opting for the poor and marginalized.”[1]  By focusing on the strengths and concerns of those they serve, many faith-based organizations have been able to build relationships of trust with local faith and community leaders that lead to more holistic solutions to the problems that refugees, migrants, and their families face.

As we approach International Migrants Day, a day in which we are invited to learn more and take action to uphold the human rights and fundamental freedoms of migrants and their families, we are reminded of the countless faith-based organizations and networks that teach us the “value of accompaniment” and hospitality on the frontiers.

This post is a brief summary of an article found in the Forced Migration Review series on “Faith and responses to displacement” entitled “The value of accompaniment.”

Photo courtesy of Entreculturas.

[1]Hampson, J., T. Crea, R. Calvo and F. Álvarez. “The value of accompaniment” Forced Migration Review. November 2014.