Update on Ukraine, Friday 11 March
As the situation in Ukraine changes by the hour I would like to update you as to the latest situation regarding BBUK projects, our people and how we are trying to help.
BBUK has just made a donation to the Orach Chaim Foundation which is currently evacuating Jewish residents from Kyiv to the relative safety of Western Ukraine. You will have seen the pictures and understand the desperation of the situation.
The patients of our Medicines Programme in Kyiv have either fled or are hiding in cellars expecting the worst.
The Levitas Family
As I reported on Sunday, Svetlana Levitas and her parents have fled to Chisinau, Moldova. However the country is overwhelmed with refugees and despite help from Alexandru Rafunda (from the Raoul Wallenberg Lodge in London) they still have no proper accommodation.
Svetlana has received an offer from a personal friend of one room in Poland so they are going to make a move there as soon as possible. We hope that we will then be able to send direct financial help. We have also offered to sponsor their Visa applications and home hospitality if they will consider moving to the UK.
As a result of our direct contacts in Chisinau, Moldova we are now able to send direct help to the impoverished Jewish Community of Moldova as they attempt to cope with the crisis.
We understand that almost all the children at the Tikva Children’s Home have been evacuated and we are donating to help them with their major needs which will continue and increase wherever they are situated.
We are in constant contact with Vadiom Kolotushkin, President of the Chernivtsi Lodge. The town, which has a population of 250,000, currently has in excess of 35,000 refugees seeking to leave Ukraine.
Through their daily contacts with the Bucharest Lodge, Romania, they purchase goods and life saving equipment which they drive 250 miles to the Ukraine border where Vadim and his team transfer to their own vehicles and drive a further 35 miles to Chernivtsi.
Many B’nai B’rith Lodges throughout Europe are now helping this effort and there has been direct input and financial support from B’nai B’rith International in Washington DC.
The Lviv Lodge has long standing connections with the Lodges in Slovakia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Germany and Switzerland who are actively helping with the overwhelming refugee crisis to hit the city.
I have heard that the situation is desperate, but they at least are not under direct bombardment at present.
The response to our Emergency Appeal has been magnificent and I would like to thank all those who have contributed. The need is getting more urgent with every day that the war continues, but at least we are now able to distribute as we understand, via our contacts on the ground, their immediate needs. Securing effective and safe methods of donation is something that we constantly monitor.
Thank you also to those of you who have offered their homes as a temporary shelter for refugees coming to the UK.
We are working with World Jewish Relief and hope to keep refugees in close proximity to one another so that they will not feel alone and unsupported.
Please let me know if you are prepared to think about offering your home as we now have volunteer coordinators.
During this very grim and difficult time and as innocent citizens live terror for their lives may I wish you all Shabbat Shalom,