We are now one month into the tragic conflict in Ukraine, which, despite interventions by various heads of state and other stakeholders, shows little signs of abating.
We continue to communicate daily with our Jewish community representatives in Ukraine, with affiliated communities who are taking unprecedented steps to support those in need, as well as coordinating our efforts with other Jewish organizations in the region.
We mourn the passing of Boris Romanchenko, a 96-year-old Holocaust survivor, who survived the concentration camps at Buchenwald, Dora-Mittelbau, Peenemünde and Bergen-Belsen only to be killed last Friday in Kharkiv, Ukraine, as a result of Russian forces shelling the city.
In addition, we were devastated to learn of the death of Seraphim Sabaransky. Not even twenty years of age, Seraphim, a Jewish student who was an active member of the Jewish student organization Hillel, died on Purim after Russian forces shelled his house. A brave and generous man, we will never know how bright his future might have been, but our hearts go out to his family, and we hope his memory may be for a blessing.
We have in our thoughts and prayers all of those who are suffering, and have lost loved ones, in these extraordinary times.
Situation in Ukraine
As the conflict becomes more entrenched, basic necessities such as food, medical supplies, and water continue to be in short supply. Although we are working to coordinate as much humanitarian aid as possible, humanitarian corridors have still not been established, although some supplies are able to pass through. Fortunately, we were able to send an additional shipment of medical supplies to the VAAD of Ukraine in Kyiv which was distributed to the most vulnerable in the Jewish community.
With the assistance of WJC, VAAD of Ukraine organized a relocation effort for children from the war-torn areas of Slavyansk and Dnyepr. A lack of available vehicles and bus drivers willing to make the trip complicated our efforts, but the children were successfully relocated to Kyiv and then to Western Ukraine, where they are now being take care of by the community members.
Israel opened a field hospital in Mostyska, an hour-and-a-half drive outside Lviv in western Ukraine, last Saturday. The hospital has 17 tons of medical equipment and is a collaborative effort of the Health Ministry, the Foreign Ministry, and Sheba Medical Center.
Communities in Neighboring Countries and Efforts of Affiliated Communities
WJC staff are actively working with Jewish and non-Jewish organizations in helping Ukrainian refugees to find accommodation. We are cooperating closely with border communities and are grateful to all our affiliates for their willingness to provide shelter to as many refugees as they can. At the request of our affiliated community in Moldova, the WJC contributed additional funding for temporary accommodation of 10,000 Ukrainian refugees crossing the border.
In the last week, the number of refugees crossing the Ukrainian borders and seeking help from the Jewish communities has slowed down considerably. We cannot foresee whether this trend will continue, or reverse. WJC staff are collating a list of humanitarian relief supplies needed by the hosting communities and will share this with those who want to contribute aid.
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 helped not only with the delivery of eight boxes of medical supplies to Kyiv, but also helped to arrange 40 Ukrainian refugees' work and stay permits and accommodations for those fleeing Ukraine.
Our hearts go out to all of those in need and affected by this conflict. We continue to hope for an end to the destruction and a peaceful resolution as soon as possible.