Withmore than 2 million Ukraniansfleeing the country since February 24, theAmerican Jewish Joint Distribution Committee(JDC),the global Jewish humanitarian organization,has expanded its long-standing efforts in the region, providing humanitarian aid to those Jews remaining in Ukraine as well as the thousands of refugees who have fled to Poland, Moldova, Hungary, and Romania.
To date, JDC has assisted more than 7,000 Jewish refugees – including the evacuation of more than 3,000 Jews – providing them with transport, food, medical care and shelter. JDC has also provided food, water, and information to thousands of other refugees.
“As we continue to pray for an end to this conflict, supporting Ukraine’s neediest Jews remains our highest priority. JDC will remain a lifeline to those who remain in Ukraine as well as those I recently met in Poland who are fleeing their homes and seeking refuge,” said JDC CEO Ariel Zwang. “We’re leveraging our century-plus experience of aiding Jews in crisis to ensure the wellbeing of those facing ever-worsening conditions and a growing sense of hopelessness.”
To bolster its ongoing efforts, JDC has activated emergency hotlines to address a variety of needs. In Ukraine,local hotlines set up during the pandemic are monitoring client needs through JDC’s network of social service centers and volunteers. Two emergency hotlines for incoming calls from Ukraine – one for general Jewish community needs and another specifically for evacuation information –are staffed Russian or Ukrainian speakers. These supplement hotlines from Moldova and Israel calling thousands of elderly Jews JDC helps in Ukraine since the invasion to track their needs and ensure we can meet them. These focus on lonely elderly, with priority locations being those with active fighting (Kyiv and Kharkiv, for example).
Additional emergency hotlines are now operated by JDC’s local community partners in Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia to answer questions and direct any individuals looking to learn more about where they can go and what support they can receive in these communities. Total calls to these hotlines average around 1,000 calls per day.
In addition to providing basic needs and homecare workers and volunteers aiding needy Jews and Jewish communities under life-threatening circumstances, JDC’s remote care tech initiative launched during COVID-19 to aid isolated Jewish seniors has been adapted for use during the conflict. It now provides psychosocial support, physical therapy, Shabbat, and cultural and educational programming to those sheltering in place. Hundreds of seniors have used smartphone supplied by the organization to access these programs since the invasion on February 24.
JDC’s Ukraine response work is done with support from the Claims Conference, the Jewish Federations of North America, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, and many other generous donors; and is coordinated with the local Jewish communities and various partners, including Chabad and the Jewish Agency.
Ukraine’s vibrant Jewish community is one of the largest in the world, home to an estimated 200,000 Jews. Since the collapse of the USSR, JDC has worked in Ukraine, and across the former Soviet Union (FSU), to care for tens of thousands of needy Jewish elderly and poor families; build Jewish community life and train a new generation of Jewish leaders.
For more information on JDC’s emergency efforts in Ukraine, including videos of staff members on the ground in the country and at border crossings, please visitjdc.org/disasters/ukraine-response.