WASHINGTON, D.C. May 7 , 2015
TO: NCSEJ Leadership and Interested Parties
FROM: Stephen M. Greenberg, NCSEJ Chairman;
Alexander Smukler, NCSEJ President;
Mark B. Levin, NCSEJ Executive Director
Ukraine Update #66
Violations of the fragile ceasefire between the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian rebels have risen significantly in the last few days. Ukrainian authorities said that five soldiers have been killed as a result of the shelling of the army positions by the rebels this week.
The OSCE special monitoring mission reported the use of 'Grad' multiple rocket launchers in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions this week, for the first time since ceasefire was signed.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter warned yesterday that pro-Russian rebels are preparing for a new offensive, even as the Ukrainian government, pro-Russian rebels, Russia, and the OSCE held talks in Minsk yesterday to prop up the uncertain truce.
Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation in Eastern and Southern Ukraine is disastrous. Internal displacement continues to rise. According to Ukrainian authorities over 1.2 million people have fled the war-torn regions, and are under severe strain with sparse resources and limited access to services.
Those who remain in separatist-controlled areas are struggling to survive. They receive no government pensions or social services, and have limited access to medical care and other essentials. Hospitals are severely short of vital medicines necessary to treat the wounded and ill. Prices for food and medicine in rebel-controlled regions are significantly higher, adding to the strain on the communities.
Jewish communities in these region continue to almost fully rely on support of international and local charity organizations. In Luhansk, Jewish community representatives reported that community members regularly receive food parcels at the local synagogue. Free meals are given out at the "Beit Menachem" Jewish school in Luhansk as part of the international relief for Jews affected by the crisis.
Aliyah from Ukraine is rising. According to a Jewish Agency report, 6,499 people have emigrated to Israel from Ukraine this year, an increase of 41% over 2014.
In Kyiv, Co-chairman of the Association of Ukraine's Jewish Communities and Organizations Joseph Zissels, Co-coordinator of the Monitoring Group for National Minorities Tatiana Bezruk, and Chair of the Monitoring Group for National Minorities Vyacheslav Likhachev have issued a report on xenophobia and anti-Semitism in Ukraine.
According to their report, while the number of anti-Semitic attacks in 2014 remained comparable to previous years, anti-Semitic vandalism reached a historic high. The report explains this high figure as a response to the Ukrainian Jewish community's support for Ukraine's territorial integrity, which triggered a negative reaction from the pro-Russian separatists and their supporters. Some of these incidents of vandalism were most likely provocations later used in Russia's information campaign legitimizing its actions in Ukraine. The report also relates a number of anti-Semitic statements and remarks made publically by pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine.