World Jewish Relief chair Maurice Helfgott has revealed the charity has so far rescued 15,000 people from the war in Ukraine – while there is also an urgent need to get food and medical supplies into the country.
Addressing a meeting of the Board of Deputies, the charity chief also confirmed over 1000 people “principally but not exclusively from the Jewish community” had registered an interest through WJR in taking refugees into their home in the UK.
But Helfgott revealed his charity had taken a “constructive view” of the government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme “to make it effective as possible while trying to influence for as much positive change.”
He told Sunday’s Board meeting:” We are identifying individuals and families that are known to us in Ukraine or fleeing for Ukraine that we hope to match through the scheme.
“The way it works is far from perfect, and far from clear. And many, many details still need to be worked out. ”
Detailing WJR’s work, Helfgott reminded Deputies of how the charity was originally founded in the 1930s by the British Jewish community to help with rescues from Germany and Austria.
But outlining the response to the conflict in Ukraine he said:” We have been able to help rescue 15,000 people so far.
“And our number one priority is to continue to do those rescues. Just this weekend there is an active rescue going on. ”
He also revealed the charity had established a supply chain from Britain from Spain from Poland, through a hub into Lviv and then on as far south and as far east as we possibly can, using our partners to deliver a combination of cash, medicine and urgently needed food.”
Helfgott said in the UK his charity have been working with the Board of Deputies and the JLC and others “directly with the government to help shape the humanitarian response, welcoming refugees and to make sure that that is as good as it can be.”
He told Deputies to relay the message back to their synagogues that the best means to help those in Ukraine was through cash donations rather than through donations of goods.
President Marie van der Zyl said the community were “incredibly grateful” for the work being carried out by WJR.
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