As the crisis in Ukraine worsens, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) has stepped up its emergency response as more Jews flee cities in eastern Ukraine and critical aid is delivered to those who stay behind in areas of unrest. The humanitarian group -; which has been working in the country since nearly its founding one hundred years ago -; has been providing a robust emergency response for Ukraine’s most vulnerable Jews since the crisis began. ‘Thousands of Ukrainians Jews face impossible choices between leaving everything behind and remaining in a war zone. More help is urgently needed and that is why we are increasing our efforts to care for Ukrainian Jews caught in the conflict with expanded resources to address the seriousness of the situation on the ground. By assisting these Jews who have fled parts of the east, and by delivering aid to those in the conflict zones, we are driven by the principle that we are all responsible for one another,’ said JDC CEO Alan H. Gill. ‘We are grateful to our partners whose support has given that principle expression and has helped ensure our response since the worst of this crisis began.’ JDC has provided a comprehensive aid program to more than 1,000 Jews who have fled violence in some areas of eastern Ukraine and found new homes in places like Kiev, Dnepropetrovsk, Kharkov, Odessa, and even Rostov in Russia. This includes accommodation and rental subsidies, food and clothing, Jewish community connections like family summer retreats, and post-trauma counseling services. Through its network of Hesed social welfare centers, JDC has also resumed services for clients who went from one place to another and have also been aiding Jews living in refugee camps. In the east, where many Jews remain, JDC staff and volunteers are delivering food, water, and medications to the elderly and families at risk in Donetsk and Lugansk. In Slavyansk and Kramatorsk, previously under fire, JDC’s food card program has resumed and the need for aid packages has dissipated. ‘People are staying for several reasons: fears for their safety if they try to leave or loss of their properly. Many others are too physically fragile or are hoping for a quick outcome to the crisis. It’s our job to be there for them. We are aware — especially with news that the hryvnia has hit its lowest value — that the economic side of this crisis will soon rise and we will need to further address unanticipated needs,’ said Gill. JDC’s work in eastern Ukraine is part of its months-long Ukraine-wide emergency response addressing increased needs among the most vulnerable poor Jewish elderly and families. Stepped-up delivery of extra medications and food, upgraded home care services, and counseling services for stress-plagued staff members and clients alike are features of this work. JDC mobile units have delivered critical supplies throughout the emergency in place from Kiev to Odessa to Kharkov; JDC staff and local Jewish community volunteers risked getting food packages to homebound elderly in areas of unrest; homecare workers have spent nights in the homes of their most frail clients; and special operating hours and call centers at Hesed social welfare centers have ensured round-the-clock care. JDC has also maintained Jewish community connections in the midst of the crisis, continuing its work in Jewish Community Centers throughout the region and operating its family summer retreats. During Jewish holidays that have fallen during the crisis, JDC provided nearly 53,000 boxes of matzah for Passover, organized community seders for thousands of participants, and delivered Passover holiday packages to the poor Jewish elderly and families in its care. This is in addition to Purim gift baskets deliveries and ongoing Jewish educational and cultural opportunities and social events held by JDC or through JDC-supported facilities and Hesed social welfare centers. Today, JDC has 4 major offices and operates and supports a network of 32 Hesed social welfare centers serving Jews in need in more than 1,000 locations across Ukraine. JDC’s long history of working with Ukrainian Jews includes its work with the American Relief Administration in 1921 to administer an aid program for Ukrainians impacted by war and famine, including the Jewish community. Additionally, Agro-Joint, established in 1924, created Jewish agricultural colonies and industrial schools in Ukraine and Crimea. About JDCThe American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is the world’s leading Jewish humanitarian assistance organization. JDC works in more than 70 countries and in Israel to alleviate hunger and hardship, rescue Jews in danger, create lasting connections to Jewish life, and provide immediate relief and long-term development support for victims of natural and man-made disasters. For more information, please visit www.JDC.org.
JDC Steps Up Emergency Ukraine Response
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JDC — the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee or “The Joint” — is the leading Jewish humanitarian organization, working in 70 countries to lift lives and strengthen communities. We rescue Jews in danger, provide aid to vulnerable Jews, develop innovative solutions to Israel’s most complex social challenges, cultivate a Jewish future, and lead the Jewish community’s response to crises. For over 100 years, our work has put the timeless Jewish value of mutual responsibility into action, making JDC essential to the survival of millions of people and the advancement of Jewish life across the globe.
For more information, please visit www.JDC.org.