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An IsraAID mission to Sofia, Bulgaria, led by B’nai B’rith World Center Director Alan Schneider will be assisting Bulgaria as it deals with the large influx of Syrian refugees. The program is a joint-effort between B’nai B’rith International, the American Jewish Committee and the Shai Fund, under the IsraAID banner.

The IsraAID mission was sparked after Bulgaria, overwhelmed by the mass of people crossing through Turkey into the country, appealed for international aid, while the the United Nations declared a “human emergency” along its border. About 11,000 Syrian refugees have fled to Bulgaria, many taking up residence in deteriorating, overcrowded camps.

B’nai B’rith and its IsraAID partners will provide food and other supplies for immediate relief to the Syrians, as well as support for Bulgarian authorities in launching a psycho-social program. IsraAID’s Dr. Shlomit Bressler is developing a psycho-social program to strengthen the knowledge of Bulgarian governmental and non-governmental bodies as they struggle to cope with the mental-health needs of the refugees.

IsraAID is the first Israeli-aid organization to reach out to assist the burgeoning refugee population in Bulgaria.

B’nai B’rith Bulgaria President Solomon Bali was instrumental in arranging the mission. Bali has been engaged in assisting refugees since their arrival and he played a large role in organizing a series of high level meetings with Bulgarian national, local officials and NGOs responsible for the treatment of refugees. The meetings and visits to refugee camps will provide the basis for a detailed plan that IsraAID will submit for future activities.