Israel to Donate $5 Million in Aid to Refugees in Darfur and Chad

Plan includes $4 million in aid to int'l organizations; Israel to become one of world's 10 largest donors.

The Foreign Ministry intends to implement a $5 million aid plan for Darfur refugees in the near future.

The recommendations for aid where submitted to Foreign Ministry Director General Aharon Abramovitch, and they must be approved by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. The aid will consist of budget funds as well as contributions.

Abramovitch recently instructed several departments in the ministry to prepare a plan to increase Israeli aid to the victims of genocide in Darfur.

The ministry's team in charge of the issue of aid to Darfur refugees, headed by Daniel Miron, head of the Human Rights department, presented a detailed report with its recommendations. The report consisted of a plan to significantly increase aid by official Israeli bodies to refugees in Darfur.

The document said Israel could not operate officially within Chad, due to the lack of diplomatic relations between the two countries, and warned that "Israeli experts sent there could become targets for violence." As an alternative, the plan recommends Israel "join the existing international effort" in Chad by donating substantial funds.

According to the plan, Israel will transmit $4 million to four aid organizations - the United Nations Refugee Agency, the UN Children's Fund, the World Food Program, and the Red Cross.

The report states that such a contribution will place Israel among the "10 largest donators to Chad refugees in the world in 2007."

The Foreign Ministry also intends to increase its activity in the Central African Republic, with which Israel maintains diplomatic relations and which also absorbs refugees. The ministry will acquire $800,000-worth of medicine and water purifying supplies from Israeli companies and distribute them to refugee camps. The ministry will also purchase food products in Africa and distribute them to refugees.

The plan also includes the establishment of an eye clinic in Kenya, about 50 km from the border with Sudan, in which two Israeli doctors will be stationed to treat hundreds of patients. This portion of the plan is supposed to be implemented in the coming days.

The Foreign Ministry will also donate $150,000 to the organization Israaid - The Israel Forum for International Humanitarian Aid, which serves as an umbrella organization for Israeli non-governmental organizations operating in countries neighboring Sudan that absorb Darfur refugees.

The report also includes a recommendation to "enlist the Israeli public" in efforts for Darfur through fundraising.

The Foreign Ministry's planned aid constitutes a significant step up from previous years, in which only $200,000 was allocated for the cause. Since the beginning of 2007, international humanitarian aid has stood at $1.81 billion, with the United States as the main contributor, providing $380 million in aid since the year began.