I share with you this update on the situation in Ukraine and our efforts to provide relief. With the winter approaching the situation will intensify for the residents and refugees. Your annual campaign gift provides support for the ongoing work of our overseas partners. In times of crisis additional dollars are needed to respond. If you would like to contribute supplemental dollars to this effort please click here.
To: Trustees, Federation Presidents & Federation Executive Directors
From: Michael D. Siegal, Board of Trustees Chair, Jewish Federations of North America
It is the end of October the temperature in Luhansk in eastern Ukraine is hovering around the freezing point. Over the coming weeks and months the temperatures will drop significantly, magnifying the depth of crisis for refugees and other vulnerable groups caught in the crossfire of the ongoing conflict.
Against that backdrop the Allocations Committee for the Ukraine Assistance Fund met this past week to review urgent requests for support from JFNA’s partner agencies, and approved allocations totaling $1.8 M. The committee is co-chaired by Andrea Yablon (Chicago) and Fred Zimmerman (Nashville) and includes as members Jeff Finkelstein (Pittsburgh), Sharon Jenks (Los Angeles), Evelyn Kenvin (New York), Sheryl Kimerling, (Birmingham), Jeff Rasansky (Dallas), and Jerry Yanowitz (East Bay).
Last spring, JFNA allocated an initial $1,052,000 to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the Jewish Agency for Israel and ORT, as the conflict in eastern Ukraine began to unfold. Notwithstanding a cease-fire agreement between the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian separatist forces in the eastern region, there has been intense and ongoing fighting in the Donetsk and Luhansk areas. As a result there is a steadily increasing number of refugees from the war-torn region, who have made their way either to more western parts of Ukraine, or over the border to Russia.
Late this summer, as it became clear that the conflict would continue, JFNA worked with its partner agencies to build its understanding of the ongoing needs. In that context, JFNA reached out to its member Federations in an effort to secure an additional $2M in emergency funding.
JDC is investing tremendous efforts to continue providing humanitarian support and relief to about 4,400 clients who remain in the conflict zones. Dedicated staff and volunteers have stayed in the areas and in some cases moved under fire to deliver food packages, water, medications and home care services. In addition there are now 2,200 Jews who have been displaced from the conflict areas and are staying in with family or friends, or in shelters provided by JDC in other parts of Ukraine or in Russia. Support for this population includes monthly stipends for food and medication, help locating and subsidy for short-term housing in hostels, camps or rented apartments. With the imminent onset of winter, costs for caring for this population will escalate dramatically, given fuel shortages and the ongoing conflict over fuel pricing between Ukraine and Russia.
As a result of the ongoing crisis the Jewish Agency expects an increase of 300% in aliyah (immigration to Israel) from Ukraine, with the number of olim expected to go from an anticipated 1,300 to 3,770 by the end of 2014. Since August the number has risen by over 1,000. Support for this process includes the flights, staff support for guiding people through the Aliyah process and limited pre-aliyah education, as well as immediate support in Israel for absorption services once olim arrive.
Following are the specific allocations approved on October 23, 2014:
Joint Distribution Committee – $850,000 to emergency relief assistance; $200,000 to winter relief. Total of $1,050,000
Jewish Agency for Israel – $650,000 to Aliyah and $100,000 to absorption services. Total of $750,000
To date, $1.8M in additional funding has been committed; more than $1.4M of this has already been received by JFNA in cash and is now being forwarded immediately to the agencies. We thank all those communities who have participated to date and recognize the inherent challenge of addressing these needs amidst your annual campaign efforts, and on the heels of this summer’s emergency campaign for Israel.
The needs faced by Jews caught in the midst of this conflict, and being addressed by our partner agencies, outstrip funding that is likely to be available. Additional cash receipts will be provided to our partners as received by JFNA.
To contribute supplemental dollars to this effort please click here.