Knesset committee discusses state of survivors this week
Photo: Yoni Yitzhak
A third of Holocaust survivors living in Israel are poor, the Holocaust Survivors' Welfare Fund reported this week. According to the fund, some 80,000 of the 260,000 survivors in the country live under the poverty line.
In addition to their grim financial situation, the survivors are also more prone to suffer from unique physical and medical problems related to the malnutrition and severe hardships they had experienced during the war years. Dental, hearing and eyesight problems are more common among survivors as well.
Many of the survivors suffer from mental distress and loneliness, and lack proper social and family support networks. Some 50,000 to 60,000 survivors are in need of some level of nursing, as 73 percent of this population is over the age of 76, and about a fifth is over 86.
In 2006, the Fund received a budget of NIS 20 million from the Finance Ministry and some $35 million from the Claims Conference. Due to budgetary constraints, the Fund is only able to provide assistance to about 30,000 survivors, while an estimated 30,000 more are also in need of care.
The Fund, in collaboration with the Tafnit Foundation for Holocaust survivors and several Knesset members, is currently trying to boost government support for survivors, and aims to secure a $100 million budget for this purpose.
The sum will ensure that all the survivors' basic needs are provided for, including nursing services, hospitalization, mental therapy, and that they get assistance in purchasing vital products such as hearing aids, eyeglasses, and drugs.