Germany has agreed to extend another $720m (648 million euros) to provide home care and supportive services for frail and vulnerable Holocaust survivors, according to the organisation that handles claims on behalf of Jews who suffered under Nazi Germany.
The announcement came on Wednesday as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was in Israel for the first time since becoming the leader of his country.
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Scholz toured Israel’s Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem alongside Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Jerusalem.
The New York-based Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, also referred to as the Claims Conference, said on Wednesday that the money will be distributed to more than 300 social welfare organisations globally.
“We are proud to announce this significant allocation at a time when these funds are critical, due to the age, poverty and increasing disability of our waning survivor population,” said Gideon Taylor, the organisation’s president.
“We know these funds provide vital support during these difficult times,” he said.
The additional funds constitute the largest amount ever allocated for the Claims Conference for welfare services in a single year, the organisation said in a statement.
It estimates the funds will pay for services for approximately 120,000 impoverished Holocaust survivors.
Since 1952, the German government has paid about $90bn to individuals for suffering and losses resulting from persecution by the Nazis.
The Claims Conference last year distributed $653m in grants to hundreds of social service agencies worldwide.
The funds are distributed to social welfare organisations in regions where significant numbers of survivors live, to ensure vital services, such as home care, medical care, emergency assistance and food, are available for Holocaust survivors there.
“Survivors will be supported wherever they live, whether war-torn areas or conflict zones, and no matter the obstacle,” said Greg Schneider, the Claims Conference’s executive vice president.
With the end of World War II now more than 76 years ago, all living Holocaust survivors are elderly, and many suffer from numerous medical issues because they were deprived of proper nutrition when they were young.
Many are also isolated, having lost their families in the war. Many Holocaust survivors came out of the war with nothing and are still impoverished today.