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Our worst fears in the Eastern Ukraine have gradually come true! The situation deteriorates as daily battles rage between the Ukrainian army and the separatists. There are, probably, more than 20,000 heavily armed rebels in the East. Heavy weapons are used and there are air strikes on the separatists. The battles, in an area three times the size of the Netherlands and four times that of Belgium, keep moving between different towns although it remains concentrated around the four towns of Donetsk, Kramatorsk, Slavyansk and Luhansk and the many small border posts between Russia and the Ukraine.
Hundreds of children have been evacuated to safer areas and, since yesterday (June 17, 2014), the local population is prohibited to leave the city. The water supply was turned off and it is impossible to obtain either petrol or diesel! The time has come for the Jews, who have not yet made preparations to relocate to safer areas, to make a decision.
Things are becoming more difficult for the individuals who are not in possession of a passport, or the relevant documentation that proves their qualification under the ‘Law of Return’. We are in direct contact with fifteen families who wish to leave the Eastern Ukraine, and are in the process of locating a safe haven for them in Kiev or other provinces. Some do not have passports, but that can be organized in Kiev. There is, thus, a tiny ray of light! They have priority at the consulate and, once given the ‘green light’, are able to leave for Israel soon!
Many end up in the extraordinary project known as ‘our first home in our new homeland’! This, of course, acquires a completely different meaning for the immigrants that had to hastily leave everything behind. Danger forced us to suspend our food parcel action in the East, but we were fortunate to provide many people with food parcels beforehand, while urging them to make Aliyah! The streets have also become rather perilous at night as intoxicated, armed rebels randomly shoot at - and break - apartment windows. When inhabitants fail to react, they burgle the apartments.
We have, through prayer, found a person who is prepared to take Jews to safe places. One of these ‘saviours’ brought Golda (see photograph) safely from Slavyansk to Kiev, in a trip that took thirteen hours. She does not have a passport, but will receive one at the end of next week. Only this morning Golda, and many other Jewish refugees from the Eastern Ukraine, had their first interview. An acquaintance of Nataliya phoned a few weeks ago, saying: ‘Nataliya, I have a vacant flat close to the Israeli embassy that you are welcome to use.’ It certainly comes in handy right now. Golda cooked a sumptuous meal for us yesterday, and we had time to talk. She has only one desire: to be with her sister who has been living in Karmiel for the past 12 years, while waiting for her dear sister to also ‘come home’! It seems this will be happening very soon!
The Lord is trustworthy and He brings all His children Home, from the diaspora. Psalm 54 verse 7 says: For he has delivered me from all my troubles, and my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes.
Please pray for the continuation of our work. We are expecting more Jewish refugees in Kiev next week but, first of all, passports have to be organized for them!
Update 18/06/2014 : we are now looking after 31 Jewish refugees most of them without an international passport and we help them step by step until they can make Aliyah. It takes an average of one month until they finally can go. We cover all their expenses.
Nataliya Krizhanovski our aliyahfieldworker is coordinating all the work with the Jewish refugees in Kiev.
Hiring transport to bring them from the East of Ukraine to Kiev, a trip of about 12-15hours. Arranging shelter and meals for them. Paying for their international passport. Drive to the Embassy, passport office, Jewish Agency. When they have all their documents ready and have their planeticket we drive them to the airport in Kiev.
(they just left their flat and don’t return home).
Tonight 18/06/2014 at 11pm our first 4 refugees we looked after are making Aliyah, two will fly from Kiev and two will fly from Dnepropetrovsk.
This whole operation adds of course extra costs to help one olim home. The average cost of 1 person all included like to bring from the East to Kiev, paying for passport, shelter, food, transport in and around Kiev,... costs around 300 euro a week!