Holocaust survivors face financial difficulties

According to an annual report, over 50 percent of Holocaust survivors cannot afford monthly household expenses.

Hologram of Holocaust survivior 370 (photo credit: Courtesy USC)
Hologram of Holocaust survivior 370
(photo credit: Courtesy USC)
More than half of Holocaust survivors living in Israel cannot afford all of their monthly household expenses, according to an annual report released on Wednesday by the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel.
The survey of some 500 survivors, released ahead of Sunday’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, also revealed that more than a third of the survivors – 37 percent – indicated that they are in financial difficulties and only 6% said they have no economic troubles.
One in five survivors also reported they had to cut down on food, and one in eight said that, due to their financial situation, they could not afford all the medicine they needed in the past year.
In addition, seven out of 10 survivors polled reported they need daily help for activities such as shopping, running errands and going to doctor’s appointments, and 49% said they suffer from health problems which constitute significant obstacles in their daily lives.
The foundation also noted that in total, 21,500 survivors were given nursing aid in 2012, an increase of about 7% from 2011.
The survey indicated that 92% think the government does not allocate enough funds for their welfare.
Some 60% of the survivors believe that Israel has a responsibility to help them more than other senior citizens and 67% said they are not satisfied with the way the government handles their needs.
The data, which focused on figures from 2012, also addressed the issue of loneliness, described as “one of the most serious problems that Holocaust survivors suffer from: 40% of the respondents testified that they feel very lonely.”
The foundation stressed that its number of volunteers doubled in 2012 compared to 2011 and is expected to double again this year.
Some 40% of survivors surveyed admitted they are afraid that the Holocaust will happen again.
To date, there are approximately 192,000 survivors residing in Israel, some 37 of whom die every day.
About 1,000 die each month, 430 of whom regularly received nursing care from the organization.
According to the foundation, the average age of Holocaust survivors in Israel is 84.
Former Home Front defense minister Avi Dichter, who announced on Wednesday that he will be taking office as the foundation’s chairman, said he approaches his new position with a “sense of mission and responsibility to act for 192,000 Holocaust survivors.”
“Not properly caring for Holocaust survivors who are still alive is a mistake that we as a country and as a people cannot afford to make,” he added.
“The next five years are the last chance of the State of Israel to intensify efforts for the survivors who are still with us and give them the quality of life they deserve,” the CEO of the organization, Ronnie Kalinsky, said in a statement.
Following the publication of the report, the Knesset’s Labor, Welfare and Health Committee, headed by MK Haim Katz, announced that it will convene to discuss the matter, described as “urgent” and indicative of “the government’s mishandling of Holocaust survivors.”
The meeting will include representatives of the Treasury and the Welfare and Social Services Ministry.