The situation in Ukraine is creating devastating humanitarian consequences for millions, and is quickly becoming one of the largest refugee crises of this century. The Jewish Federation of Ottawa and Jewish Family Services are appealing to community members who can lend their time and energy in the resettlement of Jewish Ukrainian temporary residents to Canada.
Please join a volunteer information session to help Ukraine refugees on April 11 at 7 p.m., via Zoom. This volunteer session will break down the steps to volunteer and address anticipated needs. Register here.
You may wish to consider which of the following areas you would be interested in volunteering for. Please note that the examples given are not inclusive and may be modified.
- Welcome (ex. Welcome gift bags, daily calls to families, tour/orientation)
- Set-up (ex. School enrollment, ESL enrollment (LINC), digital resource set-up, bus pass & driver's licences)
- Health Care (ex. Vaccination clinic, access to health care: primary & dental care as well as mental health supports as needed)
- Housing (ex. Soft landing, permanent housing, house furnishing & basic household supplies)
- Academic bridging programs
- Community Integration (ex. Recreational activities, summer camp registration, networking with like-minded friends & connection to support)
- Applications (ex. Applications for OHIP/IFHP, applications for SIN, CRA account/CCB application, application for GST/HST/CCP/OCB credits, Immigration document process: Visitor's Visa to PR, opening bank account)
Meanwhile, tens of Israeli and Jewish organizations are working to provide humanitarian relief for Ukraine. One of those organizations is the Jewish Diplomatic Corps, the flagship program of the World Jewish Congress, which is an affiliate of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA). Ottawan Ami Wise, who is on the steering committee for JD Corps, spoke about the network — and need — on the ground in Ukraine and surrounding countries.
“We have members in Ukraine, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary … all the border countries. So they’re active in saving lives every day,” said Wise. “Because they’re on the ground, they are just plugged in. There’s a free flow of logistical needs and ideas around the crisis, focused primarily on getting people out.”
Wise said it gives him chills to see what his colleagues are doing.
“It just blows me away. Seeing what my colleagues are doing … It's tireless. I go to sleep and wake up and there's 60 messages that I missed,” he said. “It’s just amazing to watch.”
The following provides an update by the numbers from Federation’s partners on the ground:
- As of March 31, nearly four million Ukrainians, including tens of thousands of Jews, have already fled the country.
- The Israeli field hospital in Mostyska, Ukraine, "Kohav Meir" (named after Ukrainian- born former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, and meaning “Shining Star”) has now been active for more than two weeks. The hospital, financed in part by the Federation-supported Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), is Israel’s flagship humanitarian effort and is staffed by 60 Israeli medical personnel. Since the start of operations at the field hospital, 1,117 people have been treated, of whom 33 have been hospitalized. A total of 935 adults and 182 children have been treated.
- In just one month since the fighting began, Jewish Federations across North America have raised more than $42 million for Ukrainian relief efforts and here in Ottawa $350,000 has been raised.
- The Jewish Agency for Israel has, so far, brought 7,000 Ukrainian Jews to Israel as olim or as eligible to make Aliyah. In the coming week, at least another 1,000 are expected to arrive. The Agency expects this number to surpass 10,000 in the next two weeks and approach 15,000 shortly afterwards.
- The Agency continues to operate 18 facilities at five different border crossings, accommodating thousands of refugees, many of whom will make Aliyah. Some have come on the almost 300 buses the Agency has coordinated with local organizations while others have come on trains by themselves.
- The JDC has assisted in the evacuation of a total of 10,000 people from Ukraine since the beginning of the war, including the evacuation of more than 3,000 Jews – providing them with transport, food, medical care and shelter. JDC has also provided food, water, and information to thousands of other refugees.