Holocaust survivors to receive additional $500 million
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Holocaust survivors to receive additional $500 million

Claims Conference negotiates budget increase, including more home support from German government

Aleksandar Lebl, 93, one of the very few of Serbia's Holocaust survivors, poses in Belgrade during an interview with AFP, March 14, 2016. (AFP/ANDREJ ISAKOVIC)
Aleksandar Lebl, 93, one of the very few of Serbia's Holocaust survivors, poses in Belgrade during an interview with AFP, March 14, 2016. (AFP/ANDREJ ISAKOVIC)

The Claims Conference, which manages aid to Holocaust survivors, has negotiated a budget increase through 2018, including the largest one-time increase in home care funding the organization has ever secured.

In talks with the German government, the Claims Conference secured nearly $312 million in homecare funding for survivors in 2016, approximately $350 million for 2017 and more than $380 million for 2018, according to a Tuesday press release. The additional funding for homecare totals some $500 million from the German government.

The most significant part of the agreement, according to Claims Conference Executive Vice President Greg Schneider, is that it removes the cap on the number of homecare hours many survivors can receive. Previously, survivors were entitled to a maximum of 25 hours per week of homecare. Now, survivors of ghettos and concentration camps may receive unlimited homecare. Other survivors may receive a maximum of 40 hours per week.

“Homecare is a key component of providing a dignified life to Holocaust survivors,” Schneider told JTA. “By waiving a cap for people who were in camps and ghettos, the German government has shown that they understand that and are willing to address the need.”

The Claims Conference also disburses funding from the Austrian government, as well as proceeds from recovered Jewish property, a private grant, and funds from a settlement with the Swiss Banks. In total — including social services and direct payments to survivors — the Claims Confererence will distribute some $835 million this year. The group provides aid to 121,000 survivors, including homecare aid to 67,000.

Negotiations for Tuesday’s increase began in December, when the Claims Conference set up a direct negotiation working group with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble.

The agreement is subject to approval by the German Parliament.

“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 of survivors,” said Claims Conference President Julius Berman in a statement.

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