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By Marijke Terlouw.. On a warm summer's day in the Netherlands, I sit at a table with Koen Carlier as he talks about his work during the past year. “The work expanded tremendously during the past year.” Koen speaks with great engagement. “Our team now consists of fifteen people. One year ago there were only eight. We had three minibuses and now there are seven. And don’t forget, we have a shelter for refugees where Nataliya takes care of people shortly before they leave for Israel.”
While listening to Koen, as he discusses the cause of the increased workload, I become aware of the seriousness of the situation. “It started with the revolution in Kiev. This was followed by the Crimean occupation and subsequent war in the eastern part of the country. This violence created approximately 1.2 million refugees – an enormous amount of people, rarely heard of or read about. They seek for help with relatives, friends, churches and all kinds of organizations. At a rough estimate there are between five and seven thousand Jewish refugees."
Olim ready to leave for Israel at Kiev airport
“We also notice a huge increase in the number of Jews making Aliyah (leaving for Israel). In 2013 there were about three thousand, and in 2014 six thousand, of whom half were refugees. The numbers have doubled. And I do not expect it to be different this year.”
I ask Koen what we - in the Netherlands, Europe and the rest of the world - can do to support the work in Ukraine. Koen’s immediate reply is: “Always begin with a prayer. And just now, I would like to ask you to pray that the airports remain open, to allow people to continue making Aliyah. As in the past, the distribution of food parcels is still all-important. While feeding the people, there is an opportunity to tell them about Israel."
And please, continue with the financial contributions that allow us to do this work!
Once a month Aliyah fieldworkers travel to East Ukraine to meet with Jewish communities and Jewish refugees. In cooperation with the Jewish Agency we determine how we can improve our efforts to help. This already resulted in hiring busses from the cities of Mariupol and Zaporozhe to drive Olim to the Israeli consul in Dnepropetrovsk, provide humanitarian aid and distribute hundreds of food parcels. When we meet with the Jewish people we may contribute - from a Biblical point of view - to their possible return 'Home'.
Shelled building in Mariupol
Since the beginning of this year we see an increase of Jewish refugees with serious intentions to make Aliyah. Many of them actually went - or seriously plan to go - to the Israeli consul for an interview. The next trip to the East is from the 9th until the 13th of September (2015) and Marijke Terlouw from the Christians for Israel Dutch newspaper will join us. This report was published October 13, 2015 titled " Your help is like Manna".
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Shelled building in Mariupol
Bringing Olim from Mariupol to Kiev airport
Olim in Mariupol ready to leave for an eight hour trip to Dnepropetrovsk
On our way to Mariupol (July 2015)
Driving to Dnepropetrovsk, passing a checkpoint
Driving to Dnepropetrovsk