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Claims Conference Establishes Special Emergency Fund For Holocaust Survivors During The COVID-19 Crisis
$300 Million Advanced To Social Service Agencies Globally And An Emergency Fund of $4.3 Million Established For Social Service Agencies Providing Life-Saving Assistance
The coronavirus pandemic is a frightening time for Holocaust survivors as this is a population, like many elderly, that already tends to experience too much social isolation

New York 06 April 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Julius Berman, President of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference), today announced a Holocaust survivor emergency assistance fund to help address emergency needs worldwide during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The $4.3 million in initial funding, which may be increased as needed, will be available to many of the Claims Conference grantees around the world that already provide life-saving services to 120,000 Holocaust survivors.  Berman stated, "We will work vigorously throughout this crisis to help social welfare agencies protect survivors globally.  With a network of agencies funded with approximately $610 million in Claims Conference grants, the infrastructure for delivering such assistance already exists; further, Holocausts survivors, many of whom are poor and without savings to fall back on, can rely on receiving continuing payments totaling $350 million in direct compensation.  We will continue to evaluate this emergency fund to address critical gaps as they arise.  Our leadership and staff are committed to ensuring that all grants and services are uninterrupted and emergency needs are met."

"The Claims Conference is committed to supporting survivors through our network of social service agencies around the globe.  They are the real heroes that day after day help this fragile population, which is at the greatest risk of contracting coronavirus," commented Greg Schneider, Claims Conference Executive Vice President. 

"We are taking a number of immediate steps to meet the urgent needs the pandemic has created and to get funds to agencies rapidly," Schneider explained.  "This includes significant advances of nearly $300 million of previously committed funds, relaxing reporting deadlines which will allow these funds to get to agencies far earlier than usual and, of course, this new Holocaust survivor emergency fund.  Agencies are going to have a cash flow problem and fundraising is going to be difficult.  We want them to do what they do best and go save lives. This is what is important – this is why we are pushing approximately $300 million into the system immediately."

In addition to an initial $4 million contribution from the Claims Conference, the emergency fund includes generous donations of €200,000 from the Alfred Landecker Foundation and $100,000 from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.  The fund was established to reinforce an array of services already in place, including delivering meals and medicine, assisting survivors with rent and utility payments, supporting short term sheltering for Holocaust survivors, and expanding virtual/telephonic socialization programs and volunteer programs to help alleviate isolation and loneliness through secure methods. It also seeks to ensure that survivors can be cared for safely, by providing funding for personal protection equipment (such as masks, gowns, gloves, etc.) and sanitizing agents.  

"The coronavirus pandemic is a frightening time for Holocaust survivors as this is a population, like many elderly, that already tends to experience too much social isolation," observed Julius Berman, President.  "The social isolation caused by this health crisis can take a serious emotional toll which, if unchecked, can lead to physical ailments.  To help head this off, we are offering additional funds for our partner agencies to cover the costs of urgently-needed items, like protective equipment for home health aides and for those in the field doing the heroic work of caring for infirmed elderly, who are most at-risk for COVID-19."

"After enduring so much tragedy and suffering such extreme deprivation and persecution in their younger years, Holocaust survivors need to know we are determined to do all that is possible to maintain their health and safety during these unprecedented times, when social-distancing is a matter of life-and-death," said Schneider. "For this reason, it's our moral obligation, especially now, when we are required to maintain physical distance, to reinforce our existing programs and meet the new challenges we encounter during this global public health emergency."

About the Claims Conference: The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference), a nonprofit organization with offices in New York, Tel Aviv and Frankfurt, secures material compensation for Holocaust survivors around the world. Founded in 1951 by representatives of 23 major international Jewish organizations, the Claims Conference negotiates for, and disburses funds to, individuals and organizations and seeks the return of Jewish property stolen during the Holocaust. As a result of negotiations with the Claims Conference since 1952, the German government has paid more than $80 billion in indemnification to individuals for suffering and losses resulting from persecution by the Nazis. In 2020, the Claims Conference will distribute approximately $350 million in direct compensation to over 60,000 survivors in 83 countries and allocate approximately $610 million in grants to over 300 social service agencies worldwide that provide vital services for Holocaust survivors, such as homecare, food and medicine. 

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