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State Comptroller Report: Eighty Five Percent of Holocaust Survivors Are Unaware of Their Rights

Many survivors not proficient in Internet search options or in Hebrew language have difficulty in understanding the rights they deserve

| 23.04.17 | 20:40
State Comptroller Report: Eighty Five Percent of Holocaust Survivors Are Unaware of Their Rights
Last week, the State Comptroller's report on state aid to Holocaust survivors was published. In the report, Comptroller Yosef Shapira had sharp criticism for a series of government ministries.He claimed that the state does not do enough for Holocaust survivors.
 
The report states that "because of the lack of utilization of the budget, survivors were deprived of services that could improve their well-being, including hot meals, health care, distress buttons, and especially social activity that could have mitigated, even if only slightly, the feeling of loneliness which is the main hardship experienced by Holocaust survivors."
 
The report blames the laws on the subject, describing them as "complicated," "unclear," and "patchwork". It appears that many survivors who are not proficient in Internet search options and who do not speak the Hebrew language find it difficult to understand the rights they deserve. According to the report, about a quarter of the population of Holocaust survivors which emigrated in the 1990s from the former Soviet Union came without an economic base and rely mainly on National Insurance allowances. "The voice of this population is not heard, they have no choice but to adapt to their situation, to make do with austerity and to give up their basic needs," the report said.
 
A key part of the report was directed to the Holocaust Survivors Rights Authority, accusing it of not fulfilling its role as mediator between government ministries and survivors. "In the absence of a guiding hand and in the absence of coordination, a gap was created in responding to the needs of survivors in some areas of their lives. On the other hand, there is sometimes duplication of services, lack of prioritization and inefficiency in the allocation of resources, "the report said.
 
The report also accused the Welfare Ministry of not using the NIS 60 million allocated by the government to Holocaust survivors in 2014 and 2015, and in 2016  using only NIS 4.3 million out of a budget of NIS 40 million.
 
Two years ago, the Holocaust Survivors' Welfare Fund published an annual report, in which it presented disturbing data on the state of the survivors in Israel. Today there are about 190,000 survivors. Estimates say 40 survivors die daily, 1,200 Month and approximately 14,200 each year. (It is possible that the numbers would be considerably smaller if the survivors would get the help they deserve.)
 
In a survey conducted by the foundation, 21 percent of the survivors noted that they suffer from bureaucratic difficulties. 82 percent stated that they were aware of the rights they deserve from the state and other countries that are obligated to pay them compensation, but 31 percent said they do not get all those benefits. A survey of survivor satisfaction of those who applied for eligibility points showed that 85 percent of the respondents were not aware of all their rights and benefits. "There is a need for simplification of bureaucratic processes," the fund noted.
 
Last year's figures are not surprising. Over the years, experts, aid organizations, and government ministries responsible for dealing with survivors have pointed to bureaucratic complexity as the main obstacle to caring for the elderly who survived the inferno. The prevailing argument among people dealing with this is that the large number of government agencies involved causes survivors to be unaware of all their rights, and in many cases they do not know who to turn to in order to receive what they deserve by law.