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Jewish Communities Asked to Help Medically Needy Kosovar Refugees

The work for Jewish federations that have agreed to resettle refugees from Kosovo is just beginning now that NATO peacekeepers have taken control of the region.

Local Jewish federations are likely to be asked to shift in the coming months from family reunification efforts to helping resettle medically needy refugees, according to Leonard Glickman, executive vice president of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.

Last Friday, Glickman reported to the State Department on his visits earlier in the week to refugee camps in Macedonia.

While “it’s very important to focus on the safe return of refugees to Kosovo,” Glickman said, “we are very concerned about people not able to go back.”

Since the war against Serbia began, Jewish agencies in 36 communities have resettled some 250 refugees, all with relatives in the United States, according to Glickman.

Another 200 who have already been processed are expected to arrive in the coming weeks, he said.

During the war, Glickman said, there was an urgent need to get people out of the refugee camps so more people could come in.

But now there is a shift from evacuation to focusing on the medically needy.

And that is where the United States and the Jewish community come in.

European countries, for the most part, have already filled their quotas for refugees, while the United States under existing law can bring in about 5,000 more people through the end of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, Glickman said.

“Our community has been so good at providing these kinds of services,” Glickman said, referring to medical and psychological care provided by Jewish social service agencies.

The Jewish community has pledged to help, said Glickman, who has been receiving calls from federations seeking ways to aid the situation.

“As Jews, we know only too well what it means to have to flee persecution and start over,” Glickman said.

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