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March 24, 2015

Bring the Jews home - Update Ukraine March 2015

The situation in Eastern Ukraine is worsening by the day, and most people do not know which way to go! You need a special pass, often only valid for a single day, to leave the war area and enter the area under control of the Ukrainian army. Once life became impossible, the young couple Igor and Iryna decided to leave their beloved city Donetsk (see photo below). They collected a few belongings and some documents, closed their flat door and left, with a few Jewish refugees who had a day pass for the shelter in Dnepropetrovsk, 230 kilometers away.

The bombing, by both the Ukrainian army and the Separatists, continued unabatedly. Once the minibus had passed the many heavily guarded Separatist road blocks, they could not– to everybody’s horror – get past the heavily guarded Ukrainian road blocks, despite being in possession of a day pass. And there was no explanation either! Another route, that was subsequently taken, also proved unsuccessful. The next day a new attempt was made, but by then the day pass had expired. 

After a long deliberation the minibus was allowed to continue to the location where Igor and Iryna could prepare themselves, alongside many others for their return to Israel/Aliyah. The Jewish refugees are thankful for all the assistance in all forms: for being given three meals a day, being taught Hebrew for four hours per week and being able to visit the Israeli Embassy and Jewish Agency to organize their travel documents and flights. 

Their shelter, stay and meals are paid for by ‘Christians for Israel’ and other aliyah christian organizations. Nobody knows what the future holds. We hope that the 3,000 Jews will have left by the time Mariupol, the last large city in the province of Donetsk with 480,000 inhabitants (where we’ve recently been) - falls into the hands of the Separatists. 

A group of Jewish refugees now resides in a Jewish orphanage close to Vinnitsa. They hope to return home, but the chances are very slim. Whatever happens in the East has a profound effect on the Jewish communities in the centre and west of the country. We are hiring larger busses to take the Jews to the Israeli Embassy in Kiev for interviews! We are preparing for the possibility that other Jews, in the still peaceful areas, might be getting ready as well! 

Our task is to inform and assist with free transport, shelter and escorting to Israel, in conjunction with the Jewish Agency. Update : the first hired busses went already from Mariupol to Dnepropetrovsk for consul check up and receiving visa and a large group of olim (immigrants) will leave for good to Israel by the middle of March so this is really good news!

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Igor and Iryna, who escaped from Donetsk, prepare to leave for Israel in the shelter in Dnepropetrovsk.

Jewish refugees from Lugansk and Donetsk now in a safe place preparing for their Aliyah

In order to enter and leave the Eastern city of Mariupol you have to pass many checkpoints controlled by the Ukrainian army

Our Aliyah field worker Alina (right) talking to the Jafi representative Ludmilla in Mariupol 






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