Gov't, JAFI look to boost aliya from FSU with NIS 32m. plan

Aliya from the former Soviet Union (FSU) should get a boost in the coming months after the Immigrant Absorption Ministry and the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) announced on Sunday a NIS 32 million aid package for immigrants arriving from there.

With the number of new immigrants from the FSU expected to increase by the end of this year due to the economic crisis, the new initiative is aimed at providing them with additional financial aid on top of the standard absorption basket of benefits.

Speaking at a press conference in Jerusalem to announce the launch of the program, Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver said it was "an emergency response to the changing economic climate.

"We understand that there has to be a change in our approach to the absorption of new immigrants," said the minister. "And we believe that the future of aliya starts with good absorption programs; this in turn will hopefully encourage many more new immigrants to come to Israel."

JAFI Chairman Natan Sharansky, who was also present at Sunday's press conference, said the initiative expressed one of the main aims of the State of Israel and JAFI, which is, "to help Jews and their families come to Israel, especially during times of crisis.

"We hope this will give new immigrants the emotional and economic peace of mind, at least for the first year after their arrival, which is so important to allow them to learn Hebrew and find employment, both of which are keys to a successful aliya," he said.