The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews Welcomes 100th Flight of Immigrants from War-Torn Ukraine to Israel
July 27, 2023
JERUSALEM — With the latest arrival of 26 new Ukrainian immigrants to Israel, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) marks its 100th flight helping Ukrainian Jewish refugees escape the war zone.
Since the outbreak of war in Ukraine in February 2022, The Fellowship has brought 5,500 refugees home to Israel. The new immigrants range in age from four months old to 100 years old. Over 1,000 of the refugees are elderly and retired. The others had to flee, leaving behind their homes and jobs.
“The arrival of these latest immigrants marks more than 500 days of a war with no end in sight,” said Yael Eckstein, President and CEO of The Fellowship. “We are committed to returning the Jewish people home to Israel from any place in the world where they are in danger, and we’ll continue to do so whenever there is a crisis. The process of helping refugees make aliyah from Ukraine has changed drastically in the past year due to changing circumstances and needs. And with the help of The Fellowship’s faithful donors from around the world, we will continue to respond to needs on the ground at all times.”
Coming with her husband Aleksandr and 7-year-old daughter Daria, Karyna Kubynina, 32, describes the situation in Ukraine: “The attacks are very frightening and everyone is worried all the time about their families and friends. Each time we heard a siren, we immediately made calls to make sure everyone is okay. Three good friends of mine were killed in the battles. It is a loss that is hard to describe.”
Aleksandr was drafted at the beginning of the war, and fought on the front lines until he was wounded in battle. “When my husband said he wanted to enlist, I did not sleep for many nights,” Karyna continues. “I cried without stopping. I left my phone on at night and was panicked every time I heard it ring. It affected my mental and physical health … My daughter was very afraid of the situation and it was important for us to make her feel safe. We look forward to our new safe life in Israel.”
Ihor Maiorov was separated from his wife and children, who escaped to Israel at the beginning of the war. Eight months later, Ihor has arrived on The Fellowship’s latest flight together with his 12-year-old cat, Sayuma, who became more like a friend over the last months of isolation in Ukraine. “The situation was terrible for me,” says Ihor. I was alone between four walls, and only in the morning was I able to go out to get water or buy food. It was frightening to go out into the street. I saw the bombs and heard the explosions. Sayuma was my only friend and listened to me so much, too bad he couldn’t answer.”
When the war broke out in Ukraine, The Fellowship launched an emergency aid program for the Jewish community that included nearly $60 million in grants to organizations for support in distributing food, medication, blankets, generators, and more. Since then, The Fellowship has also supported aliyah (immigration to Israel) for about 5,500 Ukrainian immigrants. Even though the airspace was closed during the first days of war, The Fellowship was one of the few organizations permitted to continue rescue flights to Israel. And before flights returned to pick up more refugees, The Fellowship loaded these planes in Israel with tons of humanitarian aid to bring to those still trapped.