JDC Steps Up Emergency Ukraine Response

Destruction in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, near Donetsk; photo by Rachel Calman/JDC.

Destruction in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, near Donetsk; photo by Rachel Calman/JDC.

As the crisis in Ukraine worsens, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) has stepped up its emergency response as more Jews flee cities in eastern Ukraine and critical aid is delivered to those who stay behind in areas of unrest. The organization has been providing a robust emergency response for Ukraine’s most vulnerable Jews since the crisis began.

Children at a refugees camp in Kharkov engage in arts and crafts with a JDC volunteer; photo Rachel Calman/JDC, August 2014.

Children at a refugees camp in Kharkov engage in arts and crafts with a JDC volunteer; photo Rachel Calman/JDC, August 2014.

JDC has provided a comprehensive aid program to more than 1,000 Jews who have fled violence in some areas of eastern Ukraine and found new homes in places like Kiev, Dnepropetrovsk, Kharkov, Odessa and even Rostov in Russia. This includes accommodation and rental subsidies, food and clothing, Jewish community connections like family summer camps, and post-trauma counseling services. Through its network of Hesed social welfare centers, JDC has also resumed services for clients who went from one place to another and have also been aiding Jews living in refugee camps.

Oleg Khaet, JDC’s Kharkov welfare programs coordinator, visits a Jewish family in the refugee camp in Kharkov. He brings with him a care package with toiletries. This man and his mother were separated from his wife and children for six weeks as they fled Lugansk and are now waiting to be reunited with the help of JDC; photo Rachel Calman/JDC, August 2014.

Oleg Khaet, JDC’s Kharkov welfare programs coordinator, visits a Jewish family in the refugee camp in Kharkov. He brings with him a care package with toiletries. This man and his mother were separated from his wife and children for six weeks as they fled Lugansk and are now waiting to be reunited with the help of JDC; photo Rachel Calman/JDC, August 2014.

In the east, where many Jews remain, JDC staff and volunteers are delivering food, water, and medications to the elderly and families at risk in Donetsk and Lugansk. In Slavyansk and Kramatorsk, previously under fire, JDC’s food card program has resumed and the need for aid packages has dissipated.

JDC volunteer Vladimir packing bags of food intended for clients. Vladimir, who isn't Jewish, remained in Slavyansk helping JDC clients throughout the fighting. During that time, he delivered food to clients in small bags rather than large ones to reduce detectability and possible confiscation. The strategy proved effective but necessitated more legwork; photo by JDC, August 2014.

JDC volunteer Vladimir packing bags of food intended for clients. Vladimir, who isn’t Jewish, remained in Slavyansk helping JDC clients throughout the fighting. During that time, he delivered food to clients in small bags rather than large ones to reduce detectability and possible confiscation. The strategy proved effective but necessitated more legwork; photo by JDC, August 2014.

“People are staying for several reasons: fears for their safety if they try to leave or loss of their properly. Many others are too physically fragile or are hoping for a quick outcome to the crisis. It’s our job to be there for them. We are aware — especially with news that the hryvnia has hit its lowest value – that the economic side of this crisis will soon rise and we will need to further address unanticipated needs,” said JDC CEO Alan H. Gill.

The interior of a building in Slavyansk damaged in fighting between government and rebel forces; photo by JDC, August 2014.

The interior of a building in Slavyansk damaged in fighting between government and rebel forces; photo by JDC, August 2014.

JDC’s work in eastern Ukraine is part of its months-long Ukraine-wide emergency response addressing increased needs among the most vulnerable poor Jewish elderly and families. Stepped-up delivery of extra medications and food, upgraded home care services, and counseling services for stress-plagued staff members and clients alike are features of this work. JDC mobile units have delivered critical supplies throughout the emergency in place from Kiev to Odessa to Kharkov; JDC staff and local Jewish community volunteers risked getting food packages to homebound elderly in areas of unrest; homecare workers have spent nights in the homes of their most frail clients; and special operating hours and call centers at Hesed social welfare centers have ensured round-the-clock care.

Destruction in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, near Donetsk; photo by Rachel Calman/JDC.

Destruction in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, near Donetsk; photo by Rachel Calman/JDC.

JDC has also maintained Jewish community connections in the midst of the crisis, continuing its work in Jewish Community Centers throughout the region and operating its family summer camps. During Jewish holidays that have fallen during the crisis, JDC provided nearly 53,000 boxes of matzah for Passover, organized community seders for thousands of participants, and delivered Passover holiday packages to the poor Jewish elderly and families in its care. This is in addition to Purim gift baskets deliveries and ongoing Jewish educational and cultural opportunities and social events held by JDC or through JDC-supported facilities and Hesed social welfare centers.

Today, JDC has 4 major offices and operates and supports a network of 32 Hesed social welfare centers serving Jews in need in more than 1,000 locations across Ukraine. JDC’s long history of working with Ukrainian Jews includes its work with the American Relief Administration in 1921 to administer an aid program for Ukrainians impacted by war and famine, including the Jewish community. Additionally, Agro-Joint, established in 1924, created Jewish agricultural colonies and industrial schools in Ukraine and Crimea.

courtesy JDC

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Comments

  1. says

    Hello sir,
    Thank you for your nice posting.it is very interesting and informative posting.This is in addition to Purim gift baskets deliveries and ongoing Jewish educational and cultural opportunities and social events held by JDC or through JDC-supported facilities and Hesed social welfare centers.
    Thanks………