Jewish, Arab Is­raelis set up refugee cen­tre

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BYNATHANJEFFAY

JEWISH AND Arab twenty-some­things from Israel will es­tab­lish a new aid cen­tre for Syrian refugees on the Greek is­land of Les­bos next week, and run it to­gether for at least four months.

Ten grad­u­ates of the Jewish Hashomer Hatzair youth move­ment and the Arab Ajyal or­gan­i­sa­tion will be run­ning ed­u­ca­tional classes for young­sters, as well as of­fer­ing psy­choso­cial sup­port for all ages and fly­ing in den­tists from Israel and di­as­pora Jewish com­mu­ni­ties to care for the refugees’ teeth.

They are vol­un­teer­ing through the Tel Aviv-based hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance or­gan­i­sa­tion Natan, which says that aid teams with Ara­bic speak­ers are es­pe­cially ef­fec­tive. “It makes all the dif­fer­ence, and al­lows you not only to com­mu­ni­cate but also to build the con­fi­dence of refugees,” said Natan’s chair­man Daniel Kahn.

Is­raeli or­gan­i­sa­tions carry out a range of ac­tiv­i­ties to help refugees around the world, in­clud­ing putting on buses to bring the wounded to Is­raeli hos­pi­tals, fundrais­ing, dis­tribut­ing clothes and even set­ting up prayer gath­er­ings. Den­tal pro­vi­sion has not been a fo­cus un­til now, but Mr Kahn said there was a need for this.

“No­body re­ally takes care of den­tal health but it’s be­come quite a prob­lem for refugees who are com­ing from wartorn ar­eas where they haven’t been see­ing den­tists and then spend­ing months on trav­el­ling with­out treat­ment,” he said. The in­ter­na­tional Jewish den­tal fra­ter­nity Alpha Omega is sup­port­ing this side of the Greece op­er­a­tion, and will be send­ing mem­bers to Les­bos for short stints.

Other back­ers for the new aid cen­tre in­clude Mex­ico’s Jewish com­mu­nity, and Is­raAid is part­ner­ing the Swiss aid or­gan­i­sa­tion Sch­wiz­er­chrüz. “We want to im­prove the daily lives of refugees and re­store hope,” Mr Kahn said.

An Is­raAid worker pre­pares to as­sist refugees as they land on Les­bos

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