In the ongoing fight against poverty and deprivation amongst Holocaust survivors, the Claims Conference has just scored a major victory.
Julius Berman, President of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (generally known as the Claims Conference), announced today (Wednesday) that the organization has negotiated an agreement with the government of Germany securing substantial increases in funding for homecare for poor Holocaust survivors worldwide in need of care. The agreement, subject to approval by the German Parliament, provides for approximately $500 million in additional funding over previous levels for the coming two years, including an increase of $111 million for 2017 and a total of nearly $388 million for 2018.
“We commend the government of Germany for recognizing its continuing obligation to victims of the Holocaust, more than 70 years after liberation,” said Claims Conference Special Negotiator Amb. Stuart Eizenstat. “We have worked exhaustively to arrive at this agreement with the German government. Holocaust survivors, now in their final years, should know of our total commitment to trying to ensure they live in dignity, with the help they need.”
Over eight months of ongoing discussions, the Claims Conference has negotiated with the German government to address the significant and increasing need for homecare among Holocaust survivors around the world. The need is expected to rise in the future, as all the survivors who remain alive are increasingly elderly, with many growing more frail and vulnerable.
“We have been fighting for the rights of survivors for 65 years and this new agreement will have a huge impact on the most vulnerable, poor and disabled among Holocaust survivors,” said Claims Conference President Julius Berman.
In December 2015, a high-level, fast-track joint working group was established, consisting of representatives from the Claims Conference and the German Ministry of Finance, in order to establish an amendment to the existing homecare agreement. That working group has met continuously since its establishment.
“Elderly Holocaust survivors, who lived through the worst of humanity’s horrors, now need assistance to be able to live out their years in the comfort and security of their own homes. Thousands of survivors emerged from camps and ghettos and they deserve to live their final years in dignity. This agreement will ensure that they can,” said Greg Schneider, Claims Conference Executive Vice President.
Under the agreement, the German government will provide €281.75 million in 2016, €315 million in 2017, and €350 million in 2018. The previous agreement, struck in 2013, provided €210 million for 2016 and €215 million for 2017. There had not previously been an agreement for 2018 funding from Germany. Additionally, in late 2015, the Claims Conference secured €35 million more for 2016 to make up for potential funding shortfalls due to the decline in the Euro. Details of the agreement are to be finalized in the coming months.
Currently, the Claims Conference provides homecare to 67,000 elderly survivors and additional services, such as medical care, food and emergency financial assistance to a total of 121,000. The Claims Conference works with 240 organizations helping Holocaust victims in 46 countries. The new agreement will expand current Claims Conference aid to Holocaust victims worldwide.
These funds are used to assist elderly Holocaust victims with daily living needs such as bathing, dressing, cooking, taking medication, so that they may continue to live in their own homes.