The recent spread of the coronavirus has challenged the work of many humanitarian aid organizations committed to helping the most vulnerable communities around the world. Some organizations even have to consider discontinuing their activities because of financial difficulties and an increased demand for their services due to the outbreak.
However, other organizations, like the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the global Jewish humanitarian organization, have deployed new aid programs in response to the acute humanitarian needs emerging from the coronavirus crisis.All over the world, in over 70 countries, the JDC continues to ensure that the most vulnerable, including the poor and elderly, have access to essential resources such as food, hygiene supplies and medicine. The JDC is also working to sustain Jewish life in isolated communities by creating creating virtual spaces.
“The formidable scope of this pandemic is profound, as are the heartbreaking human needs escalating in its wake. We in the Jewish community have been especially touched by this crisis and are harnessing our institutions and global support network to deploy a wide-ranging response that focuses on saving lives, caring for those desperately in need, and strengthening connections and Jewish community at a time when we must remain apart from those we love most. Through these actions, we ask others to join us in affirming life even in the face of despair,” said JDC President Mark Sisisky and JDC Interim CEO Asher Ostrin.
As part of its work in the former Soviet Union, the JDC is distributing additional emergency medicine and food to the poorest elderly and children and is providing hygiene gear, private transport, and communications equipment for homecare workers and staff. The JDC is also working to sustain Jewish life in the Former Soviet Union and, as such, is supporting Jewish institutions to implement activities, such as virtual Passover seders and Shabbat meals.
In Israel, the organization is providing essential care services and meals in 180 locations for those quarantined and the elderly, is training and coordinating volunteers in over 50 locations, and is creating online services, videos, and infographics in different languages providing guidelines and best-practices for its 1 million beneficiaries.
Similarly, in Latin America, the JDC is distributing food, medicine and is providing financial aid to those in need in the Jewish community in Argentina, is delivering Shabbat meals in Cuba, and even convened a Zoom call with an expert on nursing homes for 47 representatives from Jewish nursing homes across Latin America.Even in Ethiopia, the JDC is establishing hand washing and hand sanitizer stations in areas with limited or no access to clean water and soap. JDC is also equipping central health facilities in Addis Ababa with basic materials for ensuring the safety of the medical staff.
Another major Israeli humanitarian aid organization, IsraAID, is also responding to the coronavirus outbreak in countries around the world, including developing countries.
"We work with the world's most vulnerable communities and we're partnering with them to develop resilience and hope. Coronavirus leaves these vulnerable communities at a very particular risk. We have a responsibility to o whatever we can at this time of global crisis," said Yotam Polizer, CEO of IsraAID.
"Each of our 14 active missions worldwide are developing very specific and tailor made programs to their local community and context including hygiene promotion and health education programs," he added.