News items and articles on assistance to Syrian refugees by European Jewish organizations and individuals.

Tablet article on Israeli NGO’s assistance to Syrian refugees in Serbia

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Tablet Magazine ran a lengthy article on the Natan Israeli humanitarian NGO’s aid efforts and medical assistance to refugees crossing the Serbia-Macedonia border.

Several things stand out from reading the piece. In the several days that the writer, Amir Tibon, was at the field clinic, he counted no less than 30 babies, 10 pregnant women, seven people in wheelchairs, there patients suffering from diabetes, one blind person and two individuals who had lost limbs. These truly are among the most needy and desperate individuals to flee the Middle East, and there is no overstating the importance of the medical assistance that the Israeli medical staff provided these refugees.

Second, despite their desperate medical situation and need for rest, few of the refugees stayed more than a few hours or more than a night, recuperating at the clinic. All were desperate to continue on to Germany or Sweden, lest they be trapped behind closed borders. There can be no better indication or proof of the desperation of these unfortunate refugees.

There has been alot of understandable ambivalence on the part of many Jews and Israelis on assisting people from countries and societies that have traditionally been hostile to the Jewish people. In the end though, no one can be forced or pressured into offering charity, charity has to be freely given.

But Dr. Eitan Damari from Be’er Sheva very eloquently summed up the conflict between politics and the moral imperative;

Look, you can be racist in politics, everyone is a bit like that these days, but when it comes to medical treatment, the rules are different. When you see a person that needs help, you don’t ask them where they’re from or what’s their religion. You just help them. That’s what you have to do.

And finally, in the article, the aid being offered by the Natan medical team is described as “Advil for cancer”.

No. Speaking as a refugee myself, I can say that to a desperate person in a strange land, there is no such thing as “just Advil”, not when most of the world has closed their borders to Syrian refugees and many countries such as Slovenia, Poland and the USA won’t even tolerate our very presence. Refugees notice and remember the most trivial of interactions. A kind smile or a screaming policeman. Free meals and unscrupulous smugglers. Donated cloth or doors shut in their faces.

Every “Advil” offered in kindness and compassion is hope to a refugee, hope that somewhere in the world there are enough charitable people that a refugee and their family will be able to make a home for themselves, to put together the pieces of lives torn apart by Middle Eastern despots and warlords. When one is a refugee, the hope generated by kind donations of food,shelter and medicine far, far outweighs the material cost of the aid offered.

“Just Advil”? The hope that Natan and other Israeli aid organizations are giving to the refugees trekking across European countries is beyond measure. It is the sort of aid that can never be repaid in full.

2016-03-12T03:31:14+00:00 March 12th, 2016|

Dramatic video of IsraAID teams helping refugees on Lesbos

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The Kikar Ha Shabat web portal posted a very dramatic video of an IsraAID medical team treating and assisting refugees on the very beaches of the Greek island of Lesbos, literally the front line of the refugee crisis. The description of the ordeals the refugees go through to reach Lesbos are harrowing to say the least. Mistreated and exploited by smugglers in Turkey, refugees are crowded 150 on boats meant for only a third of that number, with barely enough fuel in the engine to reach halfway to Greece.

But those who manage to reach Lesbos find a well organized and highly efficient IsraAID team of medical and aid volunteers. Boats are tracked as soon as they come into binocular range, and medical assistance, warm cloth and sustenance is provided the moment the refugees are helped out of the boats onto the beach. And the comfort and relief a refugee experiences on finding Arabic speakers among the rescue team cannot be overstated.

Nor the personal risks that the IsraAID team members run. Needless to say, they have no idea who they will be meeting on the beaches of Lesbos on any given day, only that they will be strangers, not just from Syria, but from other countries that have traditionally been hostile to Jews and Israelis.

And that they are strangers in need of help. After days and possibly weeks of being exploited at the hands of remorseless human smugglers, and risking their lives on a terrifying journey to a strange land, the welcome and assistance provided by the IsraAID volunteers is something no refugee will forget for the rest of their lives.

To see the video in its entirety click here.

2016-02-23T20:05:34+00:00 February 23rd, 2016|

Israeli volunteers aiding Syrian refugees in Serbia

natanHaaretz has an article on the efforts the Natan International Humanitarian Aid organization’s Israeli volunteers who are providing medical aid and assistance to Syrian refugees in Serbia. The article also details the many ways the refugees are exploited by unscrupulous con-men and taxi drivers on their way across Serbia.

After enduring days of hardships and danger, the refugees are all to happy to finally met sympathetic aid workers who speak their language, an advantage volunteers from Israel have when interacting with refugees from the Middle East.

“It’s as if you are rescuing them from a hole in the ground,” says Kafa Joubran, an Israeli Arab social worker for Kafr Rameh, in the Galilee. “In a moment, they feel secure, a bit of the stability that they once had returns.  We translate for them, help them with the paperwork, and that helps them a lot.”

To read the entire article click here.

2016-01-09T21:10:20+00:00 January 9th, 2016|

IsraAID Israeli volunteers helping refugees in Lesbos, Greece

The Times of Israel has an excellent article by Gavin Rabinowitz on the aid work being done in Greece, by Israeli volunteers from the tireless IsraAID NGO. Volunteers from the organization have been on the ground on the island of Lesbos, providing assistance and medical aid to refugees from countries traditionally hostile to Israel.

While IsraAID has plenty of experience in disaster relief and assistance in 31 countries — from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa — this mission presents a unique challenge: The beneficiaries come from countries that are traditionally hostile, or even officially still at war, with Israel.

Read the entire article here.

2016-01-06T06:01:42+00:00 January 6th, 2016|