After 105 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).
- The fighting in Ukraine is now centered in the country’s east, with Russia seemingly having given up on controlling the capital Kyiv and other cities in the country’s west. Most of the eastern city of Severodonetsk – the focus of recent battles – is now controlled by Russian forces, and Ukrainian officials have said that the country could pull back its military “to more fortified positions” in the city but would not “give up” the key town. Ukrainian forces have also reported fierce battles taking place at several locations across the entire Luhansk region.
- According to Ukrainian officials, around 600 people are “being held hostage” in “rooms outfitted as torture chambers” and “pre-trial detention” facilities in the Russian-occupied Kherson region. At the same time, more than 1,000 Ukrainian soldiers who recently surrendered in Mariupol will be transported to Russia for “investigation,” according to Russian law enforcement officials.
- Norway has donated 22 self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine to help it "withstand Russian attacks," according to the Norwegian Ministry of Defense. Also, Ukrainian President Vlodomyr Zelensky said he had a telephone call with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz during which the pair discussed "enhancing defense support" and other issues.
- As world food shortages become more pronounced due to the war, Ukraine has accused Russia of “artificially creating obstacles” to gain control over the country’s grain market, while Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says grain shipments can resume when Ukraine removes mines from coastal waters.
- The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has sharply downgraded its global growth forecasts for 2022 warning that “the world is set to pay a hefty price for Russia’s war against Ukraine.” The OECD now expects global growth to be 3% in 2022 — down from 4.5% in its December forecast — and to remain at similar pace for 2023. Meanwhile the World Bank has approved $1.49 billion of additional financing for Ukraine, part of a support package worth more than $4 billion that will help pay the wages of government and social workers.
- The UN Human Rights Council says that some 7.27 million refugees have fled Ukraine since the beginning of fighting. More than 2.31 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.
According to Ukraine’s ambassador in Israel Yevgen Korniychuk, the country has asked to purchase Israel’s Iron Dome air defenses system, and has also asked the Israeli government to agree to the transfer of its Spike SR anti-tank guided missile system from Germany to Ukraine. “I want the Israeli government to move away from its comfort zone and get back to reality,” said Korniychuk. “We need Israeli assistance... I mean that we need the military-technical support; we need Iron Dome,... which will allow us to save our civilian women and children from the shelling of the Russian missiles in our territory.”
See here for an article on how Israel’s chief rabbis have written a letter to the rabbis of the Russian Jewish community asking them not to overrule Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt as chief rabbi of Moscow, despite his being in “exile” in Israel. Rabbi Goldschmidt has spoken out publicly against the war, and is currently staying in Israel, caring for his elderly father who lives in the Jewish state. A video interview with Rabbi Goldshmidt, where he claims that “a very significant part of the Jewish community has left Russia,” can be viewed here.
Read here an article by former Mossad head Tamir Pardo who argues that both Israel’s government and the opposition have “lost their way” on Ukrainian policy. Pardo’s comments are based on a talk he gave this week at The Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI). And this article discusses how Russian-Israeli relations are still prospering more than 100 days after the war began.
REFUGEES, FEDERATIONS, AND PARTNERS ON THE GROUND
An estimated 50,000 Jews have been displaced since the start of the war in Ukraine, most of whom have decided to remain in Europe.
Jewish Federations continue to raise money for Ukraine relief efforts, and have collectively raised more than $64 million since the fighting began. 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.
See here for an article on where Federation funding for Ukraine has gone.
Last week Jewish Federations held a webinar that provided a detailed guide to helping Ukrainians resettle in the US after escaping the war. Click here to view a recording. JFNA’s Ukraine webinars now take place once a week, on Mondays. To register, please click here.
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) continues to help Jews in need across Ukraine. So far, since hostilities began on February 24, JDC has:
- Evacuated over 12,687 Jews from Ukraine;
- Provided over 37,881 refugees with food, medicine, trauma support and more;
- Received over 18,110 incoming calls and made over 38,883 outgoing calls on emergency hotlines;
- Delivered over 477 tons of humanitarian aid.
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. Some 23,961 people have made Aliyah from the region since the outbreak of hostilities. A roughly equal number have arrived from Ukraine as have made Aliyah from Russia. In addition, the Agency has received more than 100,000 calls on its hotlines since fighting began.
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.
More than 1,000 ORT students, as well as 50 ORT teachers from around Ukraine have now left the country. Thousands more have been displaced within the country – most are in Kyiv and Bila Tserkva, around 80km south of the capital. Two ORT families have suffered the loss of fathers in the conflict, and it is believed that this number will rise when fuller information becomes available. One ORT teacher who lives in Irpen suffered the loss of his home in a fire resulting from the fighting, and the home of a student from the capital was hit by a rocket attack.
Kyiv’s ORT Educational Complex #141 is now operating as a volunteer center serving some of the 50,000 displaced people in the city. At the school, volunteers including students and parents prepare food and weave protective camouflage nets. Some teachers are physically working at the school hosting online lessons from their classrooms, with many staff also working as volunteers in the food canteens. While one ORT Kyiv kindergarten reopened earlier this month, it is expected that the new academic year will begin with distance learning studies for all after the summer.
The situation for ORT in Odesa is extremely difficult as the city has experienced Russian bombardments. ORT is trying to provide people with food, water and basic necessities to stock up, in case of a future blockade. Families currently in Odesa are not currently able to relocate.
In Zaporizhzhia, ORT is helping deal with the significant flow into the city of refugees from Mariupol, Energodar, Kherson, Kharkiv, and the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. There are currently no safe corridors as buses are being shelled. Fighting is taking place as close as 10 miles from the city. The ORT school in the city is operating an information center where local people can receive accurate and up to date information about the fighting, escape routes, supplies and more.
Read here an article from Ha’aretz, on “The Truth about Ukrainian Nationalism and Claims It's Tainted by Nazism.”
For more information, please contact Dani Wassner
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