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15 September 2020, 15:41

Red Cross helping Jewish pilgrims stranded between Ukraine and Belarus

GOMEL, 15 September (BelTA) – The Red Cross has arrived to help Hasidic Jewish pilgrims stuck between the borders of Belarus and Ukraine, BelTA has learned.

Deputy Chair of the Gomel Oblast branch of the Red Cross organization Olesya Kostyuk emphasized that the organization responded promptly to the situation. “We learned about it after 20:00. We arrived at the scene and stayed there till morning. It was pretty tough during the night as it was very cold. We distributed blankets among the youngest pilgrims. We also offered hot drinks and food,” she said.

The Red Cross was reinforced at noon on 15 September. Two tents were set up: one for heating and the other one for distributing food and other necessities.

The first to receive the humanitarian aid are children, women, the elderly and the sick. The needs of the pilgrims are updated. “Bread and dairy products will arrive soon. We have learned that the pilgrims need diapers and hygiene means. We have made a request and the aid is to arrive any minute,” Olesya Kostyuk said.

Volunteers were dispatched to the scene to provide first aid whenever necessary. Pilgrims are offered psychological help. “Many of our volunteers know English, therefore there is no communication barrier. The situation is under control; we are ready to reinforce our team if needed. Our vehicles are carrying additional blankets and instant meals from Minsk,” she informed.

The Red Cross branch noted that the Jewish dietary laws and regulations were taken into consideration. All the meals, including instant food sets, were in line with kashrut. “We have no issues with it, as we handle a lot of refugees from many countries,” Olesya Kostyuk said.

The Emergencies Ministry will bring heating installations; first aid will be provided to children and adults if needed. A mobile kitchen trailer will be set up.

A reminder, no citizens or vehicles are allowed to cross the Belarusian-Ukrainian border via the border checkpoint Novyye Yarilovichi. Hundreds of Hasidic Jewish pilgrims en route to Ukraine to celebrate the New Year on 19 September according to the Jewish calendar, are stuck between the Belarusian border checkpoint Novaya Guta and the Ukrainian border checkpoint Novyye Yarilovichi. Among them are the citizens of Israel, the United Kingdom, the USA, France and Poland. According to many of them, they have not lost hope to get to the venerated place in Ukraine. They were not stopped even by the coronavirus pandemic.

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