We continue to coordinate very closely with our Jewish community representatives in Ukraine, with affiliated communities who are opening their doors to receive refugees and with other Jewish organizations. While the situation is still alarming, we are making some progress in helping those in need.
This past week, our staff in the region met together in Budapest to develop a more structured plan of action for the coming weeks, in order to become more proactive (less reactive) and more efficient working within very chaotic circumstances and to better coordinate with other Jewish organizations on the ground. They also visited the Hungarian/Ukrainian border where many Ukrainian refugees are entering Hungary.
A brief report of the actions taken over the past week follows.
Situation in Ukraine
As the conflict continues, the Jewish communities across Ukraine are severely affected, as are all other communities. There is a shortage of basic necessities such as food, medical supplies, electricity and drinking water. We are doing all we can to supply as much humanitarian aid as possible.
Unfortunately, no humanitarian corridors have been established as there have been no ceasefires. As a result, humanitarian aid intended for eastern Ukraine, where it is most needed, mostly remains stuck in the western part of the country.
Just as in the beginning of the conflict, men aged 16-60 are prevented from leaving Ukraine. Thus, refugees tend to be overwhelmingly women, children, and the elderly. There are many Ukrainians who have chosen not to leave, preferring to stay and fight, out of a sense of patriotism and belonging.
Communities in Neighboring Countries and Efforts of Affiliated Communities
We are increasing cooperation with the international organization regarding coordinating humanitarian aid, transporting refugees, organizing resettlement and fundraising efforts.
In addition to our affiliated Jewish communities in Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Scandinavia, Portugal and Spain, other communities have also prepared and offered accommodation to the refugees. Croatia, Serbia and other nearby countries in the region are also already welcoming refugees as well.
WJC staff were onsite at Budapest Keleti railway station and at the border crossings in Hungary to better understand the process of accommodating refugees from the moment of their arrival, speak to local volunteers, interview refugees and provide comfort and assistance to those newly arrived in the country.
WJC has also created a database for hosting communities to list humanitarian aid needs that they have (medical, bedding etc.) to better coordinate the sourcing and delivery of these materials.
WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps Action
Members of the WJC JD Corps have also continued their unremitting efforts to help all those most affected by the crisis. They created an online list of available government aid and social services which can be used by Ukrainians as a resource. Individual JDs have taken refugees into their homes and even helped them to obtain visas.
We continue to pray for all those in the area of conflict or affected by it and to hope for a speedy peaceful resolution of the conflict.