After 140 days of fighting, the fighting in Ukraine continues unabated. As the war approaches its fifth month, Jewish Federations and our partners continue to work together to ensure that urgent relief reaches the neediest, including both refugees who have fled as well as those remaining in Ukraine.
(For pre-crisis background on the Jewish community in Ukraine, see here).
- The southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv came under a “massive missile attack” earlier today. Reports from officials on the ground said the city was shelled by more than 10 missile strikes from an S-300 surface-to-air missile system.
- There are reports of progress in talks mediated by the United Nations and Turkey to guarantee safe passage of shipping in and out of Ukrainian ports. Amid global shortages, Ukrainian officials say more than 20 million tons of grain remain stuck in Ukraine due to Moscow's blockade of Black Sea ports. Ukraine has been able to send some of its grain by road and rail, and a new naval route is opening up through the Danube estuary. But only 2.5 million tons were exported last month, much less than the 8 million ton average before the war.
- The US State Department says that it is aware that an American citizen living in Ukraine is being held captive by pro-Russian separatists. Rwandan-born Suedi Murekezi, 35, is said to have been arrested last month in the Russian-occupied port city of Kherson. Reports say the US Air Force veteran has been falsely accused of joining pro-Ukraine protests.
- US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has called on Russia to stop forced deportations of Ukrainians. Russia had reportedly forcibly moved some 900,000 - 1.6 million people to Russia, many of them children, according to Blinken.
- The UN Human Rights Council says that 9.15 million refugees have now fled Ukraine since the beginning of fighting. More than 3.55 million refugees who initially fled Ukraine have since returned. See here for an overall mapping of the situation of Ukrainian refugees in the neighboring countries. For details on where Ukrainian refugees have been fleeing to, see here.
- Yesterday, Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz approved sending another installment of protective equipment to emergency and civilian organizations in Ukraine. The aid includes some 1,500 helmets, 1,500 protective vests, 1,000 Israeli-made gas masks, hundreds of protective mine clearance vests and dozens of gas filtration and purification systems. The equipment will be transferred to Ukraine in the coming weeks.
- Israel’s Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov will head a political delegation to Kazakhstan next week to discuss the possibility of importing wheat and flour to Israel, following global shortages due to the war in Ukraine. Razvovoz is also chairman of the Inter-Governmental Economy Committee between Israel and Kazakhstan. Importing grains from Kazakhstan would improve food security for Israel and lower the prices of grain sold locally.
- In this opinion piece, former Israel Defense Forces’ Strategic Planning Division general staff officer Daniel Sherman argues that Israel needs to take a tougher stance towards Russia.
- Recently, leading companies from throughout Israel gathered for the Sustainability for Ukraine event, which featured a 24-hour web-a-thon on the future of sustainability, in order to raise funds to support civil society and sustainability in Ukraine. The campaign has raised over $170,000. See here for more.
- Former Israeli soccer team member, Sergei Blanchuk, has been killed while fighting in Ukraine. The 47-year-old former Maccabi Haifa player volunteered for the Ukrainian army immediately after the invasion of Russian forces. See more here.
REFUGEES, FEDERATIONS, AND PARTNERS ON THE GROUND
Jewish Federations continue to raise money for Ukraine relief efforts, and have collectively raised more than $71 million since the fighting began.
JFNA recently released a series of blog posts providing background information on Jewish Federations’ investments before the war in Ukraine and fundraising and allocations since the crisis began; information on the collective impact of Jewish Federations’ emergency allocations; and details on the lifesaving work of Federations’ core historic partners, The Jewish Agency for Israel, JDC, and World ORT.
Earlier this week, the Philanthropy News Digest featured Federations’ multi-pronged response to Ukrainians’ humanitarian needs.
Through both directed and collective grant making, Federations are supporting numerous NGO’s that are operating on the ground in Ukraine and neighboring countries. This includes Jewish Federation partners, The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), and World ORT; as well as United Hatzalah, Hillel International, Nefesh B'Nefesh, HIAS, the Israel Trauma Coalition, Hadassah Medical Organization, Chabad, Shma Yisrael, Project Kesher, JCC Krakow, Jewish Community Vienna, the Emergency Volunteer Program, Magen David Adom, Global Surgical Medical Corps, Office of the Chief Rabbi of Poland, Rescuers Without Borders and others.
Jewish Federations President & CEO Eric Fingerhut spoke at OLAM’s Focal Point conference, which included the unveiling of a first-of-its-kind qualitative report on the Jewish organizational and Israeli response to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and bordering countries. The report provides preliminary lessons into how response has developed to date, and can be an invaluable tool to inform practice for both current and future humanitarian crises. See here.
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) continues to help Jews in need across Ukraine and the region, supported by Federation emergency allocations.
For those remaining in Ukraine, JDC is:
- Operating emergency hotlines in collaboration with local Jewish communities in Ukraine, Bulgaria, Poland, Moldova, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Romania, Estonia, Latvia, and Slovakia.
- Providing those it serves, as well as new recipients, with extra essentials like food and medicine, and creating an SOS fund and allocating financial wartime support for extraordinary individual needs and Jewish community organizations.
- Engaging its volunteers, staff, and network of Hesed social service centers to address evolving needs.
- Leveraging JOINTECH – JDC’s remote care tech initiative launched to help combat pandemic loneliness among isolated Jewish seniors – to be used for community programming to provide reprieve during the crisis.
For those looking to evacuate, JDC’s efforts include:
- Executing and coordinating evacuations across Ukraine, including arranging transport and safe accommodations inside Ukraine and beyond.
- Arranging special medical transport for those elderly Jews who are unable to make the journey using standard vehicles.
For refugees arriving in neighboring countries, JDC is:
- Staffing key border crossings along with European community partners and volunteers to assist refugees fleeing harm’s way as they arrive in Poland, Moldova, Hungary, and Romania, while also working to coordinate shelter and home hospitality.
- Providing food, medicine, and other urgent support for Jews not in refugee camps or shelters and providing financial assistance to newly vulnerable individuals.
- Partnering with Jewish communities across the region to provide non-sectarian aid to people impacted by the crisis.
The Jewish Agency for Israel continues to coordinate mass relief efforts and enable Aliyah for the Jewish community in Ukraine.
The Agency has released some new and moving video profiles, highlighting work being done on the ground. In these links, read about the lives and war-time experiences of Arina from Kharkiv, and Liudmila from Kyiv, as well as Olga and Michael from Mariupol, all of who have now made Aliyah through the Jewish Agency.
OTHER UKRAINE NEWS
- Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it became clear that a number of Jewish oligarchs, (who had profited through their involvement in businesses tied to the Russian government) would likely face international sanctions. Of the 18 Jewish oligarchs identified as likely sanctions targets (together worth over $120 billion), 15 are now subject to the strict rules. See more here.
- Earlier this week, the US Department of State released a statement describing Russia's antisemitic disinformation and propaganda campaigns as “completely devoid of truth and an overt attempt to denigrate Ukraine.” See here for more information and read the State Department’s full statement here.
- In this piece, the New York Times discusses how Russian media spreads “false claims about Ukrainian Nazis.”
- Read here about how Moscow’s Chief Rabbi says he could no longer remain silent in the face of “Russian aggression.”
Jewish Federations continue to monitor the situation in Ukraine closely, and, working with our partners, are offering considerable relief efforts to those most in need.
For more information, please contact: JFNA’s Dani Wassner