Thursday, February 3, 2000 - American
Jewish World Service acting through its long term community aid project
in Russia, the Jewish Community Development Fund in Russia and Ukraine
(JCDF) will be collecting funds to help both Jewish and non-Jewish refugees
in Chechnya. Martin Horwitz, Director of the JCDF has announced that funds
will be distributed to the International Rescue Committee, and The Russian
Jewish Congress, both of which are currently providing aid in the region.
The Russian Jewish Congress has determined that a large number of Jews are among the refugees from Chechnya and neighboring territories. The Russian Jewish Congress is providing immediate aid to the most needy, and is gathering information in the refugee settlements to plan more long-term programs. They hope to collect between 2.5 to 3 million dollars for food, clothing and housing, and plan to help refugees resettle permanently either elsewhere in Russia or in Israel. The project will be aimed not only at Jewish refugees from the war zones, but also to refugees of any nationality having to flee. Vladimir Gusinsky, President of The Russian Jewish Congress, has announced plans to acquire 300 apartments in the city of Moscow, and Jewish businessmen in St. Petersburg will finance 25-30 apartments. But, he says "even with a budget of 2.5-3 million dollars we will not be able to meet the needs of those requiring aid." Martin Horwitz is in regular contact with The Russian Jewish Congress and will be coordinating this effort.
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is distributing emergency supplies in Ingushetia where tens of thousands have fled since the outbreak of hostilities in August. Gillian Gunn, the IRC's emergency coordinator for Chechnya, says the cold is one of the major factors affecting the refugees, making an already "deplorable situation" even worse. The IRC has investigated refugee settlements which have received no assistance from the Russian government or other organizations. Refugees are living and sleeping on freezing floors in abandoned factories, buildings, railway cars and farms in makeshift settlements. The IRC is distributing mattresses and blankets to the most under-served refugees as well as distributing non-food items, including wood planks, saws, hammers and nails for the purpose of building sleeping platforms. The IRC is also laying the groundwork for an education program for refugee children and launching a teacher training program that eventually aims to meet the needs of 5,000 children.
Contributions for refugees can be sent to: American Jewish World Service/Chechnya Relief
AMERICAN JEWISH WORLD SERVICE
989 Avenue of the Americas
10th floor, NYC, NY 10018.
You can now also contribute directly online.