After 112 days of fighting, Russia is trying to consolidate its gains in Ukraine’s east. As the war drags on, Jewish Federations and our partners continue to work together to ensure that urgent relief reaches the neediest. (For pre-crisis background on the Jewish community in Ukraine, see here).
- Ukraine’s defense in the country’s eastern regions is growing more difficult. Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that despite Russian forces significantly outnumbering Ukrainian forces in the region, complete Russian control of eastern Ukraine was “not a done deal.”
- Meanwhile, thousands of civilians are trapped in the eastern Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk with essential supplies running out. Many of the trapped are sheltering in bunkers beneath the city's Azot chemical plant where severe fighting is taking place. The last bridge leading out of the city was destroyed in fighting earlier this week - effectively trapping its 12,000 remaining residents inside. For weeks, capturing Severodonetsk has been a top military goal for Russia, which now controls most of the city.
- French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi are currently en route to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv for discussions with Ukrainian leadership.
- The US Government has announced it will provide an additional $1 billion in military aid to Ukraine to fight Russia. President Joe Biden spoke by phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday ahead of the announcement, which the Pentagon said included providing Ukraine with 18 howitzers, 36,000 rounds of howitzer ammunition and two Harpoon coastal defense systems.
- The UN Human Rights Council says that some 7.57 million refugees have fled Ukraine since the beginning of fighting. More than 2.48 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.
A group of pro-Ukrainian protesters carrying signs with anti-Russian slogans and shouting “Glory to Ukraine,” interrupted the opening ceremony of a new museum in Jerusalem that was led by Russian Ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov. The museum, dedicated to the “History of the Russian Presence in the Holy Land” opened earlier this week in the Russian Compound in downtown Jerusalem. Ambassador Viktorov was supposed to uncover a new plaque at the entrance to the building when protestors intervened.
Ursula Von der Leyen, the President of the European Union Commission, visited Israel this past week and said that as the Russian threat grows, the EU is looking to Israel for solutions. In this interview, the EU President said that Europe sees Jerusalem as a valuable ally on defense, energy and food security.
Following significant gas shortages due to the war in Ukraine, the EU, Israel and Egypt signed a provisional natural gas export deal at an energy conference in Cairo. The natural gas, from Israel, is expected to be sent to liquefaction plants in Egypt, then shipped north to markets in Europe. Israel's Energy Minister, Karine Elharrar said it would allow significant exports of Israeli gas to Europe for the first time. Under the framework agreement, the EU will also encourage European companies to take part in Israeli and Egyptian exploration tenders, the Energy Ministry said.
REFUGEES, FEDERATIONS, AND PARTNERS ON THE GROUND
Jewish Federations continue to raise money for Ukraine relief efforts, and have collectively raised more than $64 million since the fighting began. For full, new details about Federations’ response to the crisis in Ukraine, please see here, and for details about the impact that Federations work is having on those fleeing, see here.
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 also unveiled a major analysis of the emergency needs of the dozens of relief organizations they are supporting in Ukraine, projecting a total of $99 million in needs through the end of December. For full details, see here.
Jewish Federation will hold a webinar entitled, Sponsoring Ukrainian Refugees: Learn How to Help, on Tuesday, June 21, at 3PM ET. The webinar will explain more about the process of sponsoring individuals or families, which has become a critical piece of Federations’ response to the crisis. Register here.
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) continues to help Jews in need across Ukraine, and reports that, since the crisis began they have:
- Evacuated over 12,702 Jews from Ukraine;
- Provided over 38,219 refugees with food, medicine, trauma support and more;
- Delivered over 477 tons of humanitarian assistance;
- Received over 18,110 incoming hotline calls and made over 38,883 outgoing calls to those Jews in the region needing help;
- Treated more than 7,200 patients at the JDC- Natan field clinic.
Watch here a video of a JDC homecare worker in Odesa discussing her experiences; and see here for a video of JDC’s impact response in Ukraine.
The Jewish Agency for Israel continues to coordinate mass relief efforts and enable Aliyah for the Jewish community in Ukraine. Read here the moving story of a Ukrainian-born Israeli who is now back in the region of his birth, helping Jewish Agency relief efforts.
Since fighting began on February 24, the Jewish Agency has:
- Brought some 24,000 people to Israel from the region, through immigration visas and eligibility requests;
- Processed around 106,000 calls on its Aliyah hotlines;
- Opened 40 hotels for olim arriving from Ukraine. A total of 6,400 people have already passed through these temporary facilities, and 692 are currently staying there;
- Accommodated more than 7,000 refugees in absorption hotels in Europe;
- Begun retraining olim for employment in Israel (150 participants in high-tech training; 150 in medical courses for doctors, nurses and others; 250 in industry and the economy courses).
The Jewish Agency and JDC have both established emergency hotlines to assist the Jewish community in Ukraine. For more about JDC’s efforts, see here; for those of the Jewish Agency, see here.
Federation partner World ORT held a special Global Briefing on Ukraine last week on the current situation facing the organization’s students, teachers and their families in Ukraine. Click here to read a summary.
Meanwhile, some 5,000 Jews have immigrated to Germany from Ukraine since the war began, according to Dr. Felix Klein, the German government’s commissioner for Jewish life in Germany and the fight against antisemitism. During the annual convention of the Conference of European Rabbis, Klein said that Germany was accepting Jewish refugees from Ukraine just as it did after the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.
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: Dani Wassner