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IsraAid fighting to help refugees in Europe


Volunteers welcomed the new year by saving a group of drowning refugees of the Greek coast, but the action was just part of larger effort to help the masses of desperate travelers.

At an hour when most families in Israel were sitting down for their holiday dinners, three volunteers were welcoming the new year by saving a group of refugees after their boat sank near the Greek coast.

On Sunday night, 200 meters away from the coast of the island of Lesbos, an engine exploded on an rubber boat carrying 50 refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The boat began to sink. Women, children and babies fell into the water, many of them did not know how to swim.

Luckily, there were three volunteers from the “IsraAID” humanitarian organization waiting on the beach – Naama Gorodischer, a project manager in the organization, Dr. Tali Shaltiel, and the group’s social worker Orli Unger. The women were originally there to help refugees who reached the coast, but when they saw the ship sinking, they immediately found themselves in the middle of a rescue mission with another group of volunteers.

“We heard screaming. The refugees became hysterical,” Naama said. “We immediately jumped into the water and swam towards them with flotation devices. We grabbed the children and swam back. Others grabbed whatever they could from the boat and swam to shore. There was a lot of panic, people were terrified,” she concluded.

Thanks to the volunteers’ quick reaction, all the refugees were saved. Gorodischer says they were lucky, but refers to what is taking place off the coast of Greece as a “Humanitarian disaster. Turkish smugglers take $1,500 per head, place them on rubber dinghies, and tell them to ‘work it out,’” she said.


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