Jewish Agency chairman Doron Almog with refugee children in Warsaw. Credit: Maxim Dinshtein.
(JNS) — More than 15,000 Ukrainians have immigrated to Israel since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine a year ago, according to government figures released on Feb. 19.
The immigration statistics put out by the quasi-governmental Jewish Agency for Israel and the Ministry of Aliya and Integration come five days ahead of the first anniversary of the war, which shows no signs of ending.
“This is one of the largest rescue operations in history,” said Maj. Gen. (res.) Doron Almog, chairman of the Jewish Agency. “It is the epitome of the notion of all of Israel being responsible for one another. Our sense of mutual responsibility serves as a moral compass which has guided us through history and will continue to do so.”
The new immigrants arrived in Israel with the help of the Jewish Agency and the cooperation of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, which established 18 emergency aliyah centers in countries bordering Ukraine immediately after the Russian invasion.
At these centers, the refugees found safe haven. Once they arrived in the Jewish state, they were placed in hotels across the country as part of the government’s “Operation Coming Home,” which was led by the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration.
The Ukrainian immigrants include many young people who enrolled in special absorption programs, mothers with young children and senior citizens including hundreds of Holocaust survivors.
World Jewry, led by the Jewish Federations of North America and Keren Hayesod, immediately came to the support of the Ukrainian Jewish community, along with help from Christian Friends of Israel. Tens of millions of dollars were raised in an unprecedented effort to assist the rescue and immigration process.
“When the war broke out in Ukraine, I traveled as a member of Knesset to the refugee centers in Moldova to observe the aliyah process of those who fled the conflict zones first-hand, said lawmaker Ofir Sofer. “As the minister of aliyah and integration, I saw the importance of welcoming the olim upon their arrival in Israel and assisting in their integration into Israeli society.”
A total of 75,000 olim arrived in Israel in 2022, with the most coming from Russia followed by Ukraine. It was the largest number of new immigrants to arrive in 23 years.