After 91 days of fighting, the war continues in Ukraine with no end in sight. Millions of Ukrainians, including tens of thousands of Jews, have fled the country, many to Israel. Jewish Federations and our partners continue to work together to ensure that urgent relief reaches the neediest.
(For pre-crisis background , as well as information on the Jewish community in Ukraine, see here).
- Fighting continues in Ukraine’s east, as Russian forces try to take control of more territory there. According to media reports, Russia is attempting to encircle two cities in the area, Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, which straddle a key river. Taking control of these two important targets would mean Russia would be closer to its goal of controlling the whole of the Luhansk region. One American defense official noted that while Russia invaded Ukraine on three fronts, it has failed to capture the country’s two largest cities (Kyiv and Kharkiv) and is now focusing its attack almost exclusively on Ukraine's eastern regions.
- As reports of atrocities mount, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the launch of a new joint UK, EU and US group to help support efforts of the Ukrainian Prosecutor General (OPG) to document war crimes and other outrages committed in Ukraine. The new mechanism, called the Atrocity Crimes Advisory Group (ACA), will “provide strategic advice and operational assistance to the War Crimes Units of the OPG, the legally constituted authority responsible for prosecuting war crimes and other atrocities in Ukraine," Blinken said.
- In a controversial move trying to solidify Russian gains, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree simplifying the process for residents of newly captured Ukrainian districts to acquire Russian citizenship and passports.
- According to the UN Human Rights Council, some 6.64 million refugees have fled Ukraine since the beginning of fighting. More than 2.12 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. Of those leaving:
- Poland has taken in 3,544,995 refugees
- Romania 972,203
- Russia 945,007
- Hungary 654,664
- Moldova 473,690
- Slovakia 446,755
- Belarus 27,308
- For more details on where Ukrainian refugees have been fleeing to, see here.
Israel has extended the visas of some 15,000 Ukrainian refugees currently in the country (who are not eligible to make Aliyah under the Law of Return) until at least June 30. The extensions will occur automatically and the refugees do not need to take any action.
The Ministry of Interior also announced that those who arrived from Ukraine since the war began will be allowed to work in Israel until July. According to the decision, the government will not take steps against refugees working without authorization or against their employers. Ukrainian refugees who arrived in Israel before February 24 will not be deported, but will not be permitted to work, either.
Despite numerous stories about large numbers of newly arriving Russian olim to Israel returning to Russia, according to this article, most plan to return to Israel once their personal and financial affairs are in order.
The Jerusalem Post reports that the locations of Jewish heritage sites in Ukraine were passed on to Anatoly Viktorov, Russia's Ambassador to Israel, by Yaakov Hagoel, the chairman of the World Zionist Organization (WZO) on Wednesday. In light of the great risk of damage to national Jewish heritage sites in Ukraine, Hagoel shared a map of the sites with the Russian ambassador in an attempt to minimize accidental damage.
Since fighting began, more than 21,000 Ukrainian, Russian and Belarusian immigrants – who are eligible for citizenship under the Law of Return – have entered Israel, according to the Ministry of Aliyah and Absorption. A total of 10,019 of the olim have arrived from Ukraine, 9,777 from Russia and 455 made Aliyah from Belarus.
REFUGEES, FEDERATIONS, AND PARTNERS ON THE GROUND
Jewish Federations continue to raise money for Ukraine relief efforts, and have collectively raised more than $62 million since the fighting began – more than triple the initial goal set on February 24th, 2022, the day that war broke out. Click here to see a presentation about the allocations process for these funds. Through both directed and collective grant making, Federations are supporting over 46 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 and others.
The United States announced that 100,000 Ukrainians will be approved to come to the United States and families and organizations are looking to support them and the thousands of Ukrainians who are already in the country. In the coming weeks, Jewish Federations will guide potential sponsors through the process, providing all the information and resources needed for approval to participate in the program, match with the Ukrainians who need help, and provide the knowledge and training needed to support Ukrainian resettlement including volunteer coordination, resources, services and access to basic necessities and government benefits. JFNA will hold a webinar to discuss these efforts next Thursday, June 2nd at 3:00 PM Eastern on Sponsoring Ukrainian Refugees.
Federations continue to run a volunteer hub in support of refugees fleeing Ukraine in partnership with the Jewish Agency, JDC and IsraAID. To volunteer for this program (please note that only those who speak Russian and/or Ukrainian are being selected at this time), click here.
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) continues to help Jews in need across Ukraine. In the last three months, JDC has:
- Fielded more than 54,000 calls through its Hesed social welfare network and 24/7 emergency hotline system.
- Provided more than 36,000 refugees with vital necessities, like food, medicine, and psychosocial support.
- Evacuated some 12,600 Jews fleeing violence in Ukraine. JDC is still coordinating complex rescue operations for those escaping the war, arranging transport and accommodation for evacuees, as well as organizing special medical transport for elderly individuals unable to journey in standard vehicles.
- Delivered over 300 tons of humanitarian aid to tens of thousands of Jews in Ukraine and those who have fled to Moldova, including crucial essentials like food and medicine.
- Hosted 6,600 refugees and local community members at communal Passover seders across Ukraine, Poland, Romania, Moldova, and Hungary, while providing nearly 16 tons of matzah to tens of thousands of Jews remaining in Ukraine.
- Aided more than 7,200 refugees at JDC-NATAN, a 24/7 medical clinic set up in Poland’s largest humanitarian aid center – just eight miles from the Ukraine border.
- JDC has also delivered hundreds of wheelchairs and crutches to those with disabilities, as well as telemedicine devices that can provide medical care to thousands of sick and injured Ukrainians.
The Jewish Agency for Israel continues to coordinate mass relief efforts and enable Aliyah for the Jewish community in Ukraine. Watch a video about the Agency’s efforts.
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.
World ORT will be holding a special Global Briefing on Ukraine on Thursday, June 9th at 12:00 pm ET. The call will discuss how the situation in Ukraine is affecting ORT students and schools; the global ORT community's support that is making a difference on the ground; and ORT's focus on addressing mental health needs. Register for the call here.
See a story here about the Przemyśl Humanitarian Aid Center, a repurposed shopping mall near the Medyka border crossing in southeastern Poland, where doctors from Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital have been running a medical clinic since March. And read here a story from Ha’aretz entitled, “I Was a Russian-speaking Jew from Kyiv. Now, I Am Ukrainian.”
For more information, please contact Dani Wassner.