August 11, 2008—In response to the escalation of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Georgia, JDC has instituted emergency measures to provide Jews trapped in the war zone with food, water, and medicine and assist those who relocated to safer areas either in Georgia or Russia. JDC, which assists 1500 elderly and 735 children at risk and their families in the region, is currently providing welfare and social services to over 300 elderly Jewish clients in Gori, Poti, and South Ossetia, the areas most affected by the fighting.
JDC has deployed additional staff and has been working with the local Jewish community to absorb and provide assistance to the estimated 100 Jewish refugees who left Gori for Tbilisi. A senior JDC staff person is directing the JDC rescue operation on the ground. Additional staff is now stationed in Vladikavkaz, which serves as an escape point from besieged South Ossetia. JDC’s 10-person team in the region is working to ensure there are no Jews left trapped in the war zone and render the much-needed initial aid.
Fighting in the region erupted late on August 7 when Georgia sent forces into South Ossetia, a small pro-Russian province which threw off Georgian rule in the 1990s. Russia responded by pouring troops and heavy armor into South Ossetia, where continuous ground battles have been fought mainly in the region’s capital, Tskhinvali. On August 9, Tskhinvali was taken over by Russia. The South Ossetia region remains completely isolated, without phone or other communications. On August 8 and 9, Russian planes bombed the Georgian cities of Gori and Poti. Borders to and from South Ossetia are currently completely blocked.
JDC today met with the Israeli Ambassador and the Jewish Agency for Israel on the ground in Tbilisi to share information about efforts in this region.
About American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC)
Founded in 1914, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) gives global expression to the principle that all Jews are responsible for one another. Working on behalf of North America’s Jewish communities, JDC is dedicated to rescuing those in danger, providing relief to Jews in distress, and revitalizing overseas Jewish communities. JDC is committed to helping Israel’s most vulnerable citizens overcome the social challenges they still face through special partnerships and innovation. In the spirit of "healing the world," JDC also offers non-sectarian disaster relief and longer-term development assistance worldwide. To find out more about JDC and our work in over 60 countries worldwide, visit www.jdc.org