Jewish Agency to launch Aliyah Express program to increase number of Ukrainian immigrants

The Jewish Agency said it has received over 25,000 inquiries for Aliyah from Ukraine and neighboring countries, and 8,500 filled out immigration forms.

From right to left: Immigration and Absorption Unit Director at the Jewish Agency Shai Felber, World Zionist Organization Chairman and  Jewish Agency Acting Chairman Yaakov Hagoel and Jewish Agency Director-General Amira Aharonovich. (photo credit: THE JEWISH AGENCY)
From right to left: Immigration and Absorption Unit Director at the Jewish Agency Shai Felber, World Zionist Organization Chairman and Jewish Agency Acting Chairman Yaakov Hagoel and Jewish Agency Director-General Amira Aharonovich.
(photo credit: THE JEWISH AGENCY)

In anticipation of the expected waves of immigration from Ukraine, the Jewish Agency announced on Monday in a press conference that it will launch the "Aliyah Express" program to accelerate the rate of immigration from hundreds to thousands a week.

Since the beginning of the war, about 4,000 immigrants from Ukraine have immigrated to Israel, and the new program is intended to increase their number dramatically to tens of thousands of immigrants who will immigrate as a result of the war between Ukraine and Russia. "Aliyah Express" is based on the ease of examining eligibility for immigration and the rapid flight of immigrants to Israel immediately afterward by the Jewish Agency and the Fellowship (IFCJ).

Among the highlights of the program include: Accelerating the rate of increase from thousands to tens of thousands by facilitating the eligibility tests of "Nativ"; establishment of a joint headquarters for coordination between all rescue and aliyah organizations based on the Jewish Agency's infrastructure; increasing the number of beds in the transit facilities in Europe to accommodate about 10,000 immigrants and preparations for the construction of additional facilities in Romania and a stadium for immigrants in Bulgaria; assistance to the efforts of the Aliyah and Integration Ministry in the absorption of immigrants who will arrive in Israel and the implementation of an emergency plan for the absorption of thousands of young people as part of a larger campaign.

The Jewish Agency is assisting in the establishment of a joint headquarters for all bodies dealing with immigration at the request of the national project manager for Aliyah from the FSU of the Government of Israel, which will be based on the Jewish Agency's infrastructure and many years of experience in rescuing and through which the government will operate.

The Jewish Agency is also preparing to assist the government in absorbing immigrants who arrive in Israel, among other things by recruiting dozens of employees to assist the Aliyah Ministry's efforts and absorbing immigrants in hotels in Israel.

The Jewish Agency headquarters in Jerusalem (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)The Jewish Agency headquarters in Jerusalem (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

The Jewish Agency said it has received over 25,000 inquiries for Aliyah from Ukraine and neighboring countries, and 8,500 filled out immigration forms. In addition, 4,500 Jews are currently staying in hotels funded by the Jewish Agency across Europe.

Yaakov Hagoel, World Zionist Organization Chairman and  Jewish Agency Acting Chairman, said at the press conference today that: "The Jewish Agency continues to be at the forefront of its mobilization for the people of Israel in general and for Ukrainian Jewry in particular. The combination of the Jewish Agency's forces, means and experience with the other bodies and organizations will help resolve the emergency crisis facing Ukrainian Jewry, while rescuing, absorbing and immigrating quickly in order to facilitate the thousands who arrive in Israel - to their new home."

Asked what was the situation with Russian Jewry as a result of the conflict, Hagoel told The Jerusalem Post that "we are prepared for Olim from any country in the world - including Russia. In the last month, we've seen an influx of interest in Aliyah from Russian Jews. There will be a huge rise in the numbers of immigrants from the former Soviet Union countries."

Jewish Agency Director-General Amira Aharonovitch added that "the mobilization of world Jewry and Israeli society for the Jews of Ukraine is enormous. The activity of the Jewish Agency in this operation is carried out, among other things, thanks to donations of tens of millions made by the Jewish Federations of North America, Keren Hayesod and others." 

Aharonovitch said that the Jewish Agency will begin with the Aliyah process of 3,000 Ethiopians who have been waiting to make Aliyah for many years.

"The Jewish Agency continues to be committed to rescuing every Jew from anywhere in the world and is currently working in parallel to implement the government decision to continue Aliyah of 3,000 members of the community waiting in Ethiopia. Among other things, the Jewish Agency has expanded the teams operating in Ethiopia and at the same time is preparing for the optimal absorption of immigrants in the absorption centers throughout the country. The rescue of the Jews of Ukraine and the Jews of Ethiopia are part of the moral duty and mission of the Jewish Agency," Aharonovitch said.

On Monday, the finance, welfare and social affairs ministries, together with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), launched Operation 'Temporary Order' (Tzav Ha'Shaa) to help Ukrainian citizens residing in Israel who are not entitled to make Aliyah. The operation will offer all refugees from Ukraine health services and a hotline that will provide assistance in three languages. The welfare and finance ministries have agreed on health insurance for refugees aged 60 and over and people with disabilities. All other residents of Israel will be able to receive primary care and emergency care at "Terem" clinics free of charge.

Operation 'Temporary Order' is intended to provide a civilian humanitarian response to Ukraine who arrived in Israel after February 24 and who are not entitled to move to Israel according to the Law of Return.

"It is a great privilege to help innocent civilians who fled the horrors of war when they were destitute," said Welfare and Social Affairs Minister Meir Cohen.

Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman added that "the existing reality requires us to provide appropriate information and guidance to those who have inevitably landed in a foreign reality and need guidance. I hope that the new center will provide an orderly response and make this difficult period easier for asylum seekers."