As ethnic violence in southern Kyrgyzstan continues to worsen, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the world’s largest Jewish humanitarian organization, has expanded its services—including providing extra food and medicine—for its Jewish community clients in that region and continues its daily monitoring of their safety. The current unrest has moved to the south of the country, which is home to fewer than 70 Jews in four cities, and is far from the nation’s capital, Bishkek. To date, there have been no reported injuries to the Jewish community.
“Since the beginning of this crisis in April, JDC has been vigilant in its daily contact and care for Jewish community members caught up in the tragic events in Kyrgyzstan,” said JDC CEO Steven Schwager. “As in past crises, JDC, working on the ground with the local Jewish community, will help ensure safety, provide critical services, and reach Jews in danger or need wherever they may be.”
Throughout the crisis, JDC has ensured that its services to the Jewish community, including vital, life-saving programs, continued uninterrupted. Homebound elderly clients of its Meals on Wheels program received deliveries of food—their only source of nourishment—and as public transport was at a standstill for periods of time, homecare workers slept at the homes of bedridden clients whose lives would be jeopardized without these services.
JDC’s long-term support for the Jewish community in Kyrgyzstan, an estimated 1,300 people, includes the local Hesed welfare center in Bishkek, which provides food, medicine and home care to the community. Additionally, JDC supports a Jewish library, a program for family education, as well as other aid and Jewish renewal programs for elderly and children at risk.
Most of Kyrgyzstan’s Jews are concentrated in Bishkek, but Jews can also be found in 10 other locations throughout the country.