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Immigrant compound opens in northern Ethiopia

From the Jerusalem Post Newspaper:
By Melissa Radler
June 27, 2001

A community compound for 10,000 Ethiopian Jews awaiting aliyah to Israel opened yesterday in the nation’s northern Gondar province.

Sponsored by New York-based advocacy group Struggle to Save Ethiopian Jewry (SSEJ), the compound features an emergency food distribution area that is aimed at feeding children under five and pregnant and nursing mothers, as well as a synagogue, mikveh and adult education center, said SSEJ official Jeremy Feit.

The feeding programs, he said, are to be paid for by the North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry.

“Hopefully the new compound will build confidence and alleviate some of the major sufferings of the community,” said Feit.

Last month, a report on Ethiopian Jewry awaiting immigration to Israel that was released by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) said: “Even by the standards of displaced people in Ethiopia, their health, nutritional, housing and sanitary conditions are appalling.” The report called the assistance provided by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which claims to provide hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical and nutritional aid, “inadequate.”

Some 3,500 Ethiopian Jews have been found to be eligible for aliyah so far this year out of 26,000 applicants from Gondar, Addis Ababa and surrounding villages.