Ukraine Update #53: Donetsk, Luhansk, and Mariupol Jewish communities report

WASHINGTON, D.C. October 7, 2014

TO: NCSEJ Leadership and Interested Parties

FROM: Stephen M. Greenberg, NCSEJ Chairman;
Alexander Smukler, NCSEJ President;
Mark B. Levin, NCSEJ Executive Director


Ukraine Update #53


U.S. Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland traveled to Kyiv this week to discuss U.S. assistance to Ukraine. She met with President Poroshenko and other government officials and political leaders, and with civil society activists and student groups.

Among issues discussed was the implementation of the Minsk ceasefire agreement. Assistant Secretary Nuland publicly urged Russia to fully observe the agreement, and said that U.S. could cancel a number of sanctions against Russia if it complies.

Despite the ceasefire agreement, violent unrest continues in the area close to the Donetsk airport, where pro-Russian rebels are attempting to seize the airport. Deaths from fighting have not stopped: at least 80 soldiers and civilians have been reported killed in Eastern and Southern Ukraine since the ceasefire's announcement in early September.

Meanwhile, concerns grow about the worsening of Ukraine's humanitarian crisis as winter approaches. A winter energy crisis in Ukraine could severely impact refugees in camps and temporary housing, and the remaining civilians in the war zones.

Many residential buildings in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions have suffered severe damage from the shelling, which will make them difficult to heat effectively. Also of concern is the heavily damaged infrastructure in the areas occupied by or liberated from the pro-Russian separatists.

JDC and local Jewish volunteer groups continue their efforts to aid Jewish refugees, who number as many as two thousand people by some accounts. In addition to helping them with housing, food, and medicine, these organizations are preparing to provide warm clothes, blankets, and heaters.

In Donetsk, the Hesed center is currently closed because of a nearby shell explosion. The Jewish community of Donetsk continues to receive assistance from JDC and other Jewish groups, who have temporarily moved their base of operations to Mariupol.

In Luhansk, the Jewish community is being provided basic assistance, and the situation is currently stable.

In Mariupol, the Jewish community is preparing for Sukkot. Members of the Jewish community started constructing their sukkah, where they will study Torah, pray, and eat during the holiday week.  

Sukkot preparations in Mariupol

Sukkot preparations in Mariupol
Sukkot preparations in Mariupol

Sukkot preparations in Mariupol
Founded in 1971, NCSEJ represents the organized American Jewish community in monitoring and advocating on behalf of the estimated 1.5 million Jews in Eastern Europe and Eurasia, including the 15 successor states of the former Soviet Union. 
Phone: 202-898-2500 
NCSEJ is a beneficiary of The Jewish Federations of North America and the National Federation/Agency Alliance through its network of Federations. 
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