Minister for Refugees Lord Richard Harrington has hailed the response of Jewish and Israeli organisations around the world to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, following Russia’s invasion in February 2022. Speaking at Magen David Adom UK’s annual Patrons’ Dinner he said, “Every border I’ve been to is full of Magen Davids”.
The event, which took place on Sunday 26 June, saw MDA UK welcome 80 of its supporters to The Grove in Watford. Attendees heard from Lord Harrington, judge and broadcaster Rob Rinder and MDA paramedic Katya Korshenbaum, who helped treat patients at the field hospital Magen David Adom established in Ukraine.
Lord Harrington, who shared that he undertook his role because he believes in the duty of British Jews to welcome refugees, revealed that 87,000 refugees have now arrived in the UK under the government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme. He told guests that he hoped the programme, which sees vetted Britons take refugees into their homes, “will be a model of resettling refugees for the future. For me, it’s setting up machinery that can be used for any tragedy which the world throws up.”
He also praised MDA UK’s Chief Executive Daniel Burger for the charity’s role in Project Light, which helped to facilitate the rescue of dozens of Ukrainian orphans to the UK alongside Dnipro Kids, Sally Becker and Rob Rinder.
In a moving address, Rob Rinder described Magen David Adom as “the most articulate expression of what Israel is and can be”, telling supporters that MDA is “a critical tool against anti-Jewish racism.”
“What more poetry than an ambulance service that isn’t funded by the state but by international diaspora, knows no borders, blood or nationality but shares everything it has. Across all of the challenges into Palestine, into hostile territory. It does so because it believes in the fundamental mission of what Judaism has at its heart which is whatever we do chai – life – is at the centre.
“MDA speaks to that better than any charity, better than any poetry, better than any example. That’s its enduring value,” he said.
Rinder reported from the Ukrainian border as Magen David Adom – Israel’s only national blood and emergency service – provided medical training to locals and sent ambulances to help patients on the front lines.
Daniel Burger, Chief Executive of Magen David Adom UK, said: “The Patrons’ Dinner provided a great opportunity for us to talk to some of our closest donors and supporters about how Magen David Adom is saving more lives. Not just in Israel, but in Ukraine and across the world.”
The event raised over £100,000 and was the first in a series of events which will include an audience with Fauda’s Lior Raz and an exclusive reception hosted by Bloomberg.