Romanian and Serbian Holocaust survivors have received payments totaling 2.5 million Euro as a result of efforts to obtain restitution of Jewish communal property seized during the Nazi and Communist eras as well as the return of Jewish heir-less property, the World Jewish Restitution Organisation announced on Wednesday.

In a joint statement, Gideon Taylor, WJRO chairman of operations, and Colette Avital, president of the Caritatea Foundation, said: “These funds will provide support to Holocaust victims to help them live with the dignity they deserve. Proceeds of the restitution of properties once wrongfully taken from Jewish communities are being used to help Holocaust victims.”

Taylor said the money from Serbia represents “a historic step to provide compassion and a measure of justice to Serbian Holocaust survivors more than 70 years after the Nazis declared Serbia free of Jews. We urge other countries to follow Serbia’s lead and return heirless Jewish property so that Holocaust survivors in need may benefit during their lifetimes.”

More than 2.4 million Euro went to support some 2,044 needy Holocaust survivors of Romanian origin who live in Israel. Payments of 1.617 Euro were made to 1,156 Holocaust survivors whose monthly income is no higher than 740 Euro and who receive supplementary income payments from the National Insurance Institute.

An additional 888 needy survivors, who were identified based on income and disability as in need, according to the definition of the Authority for the Rights of Holocaust Survivors, received grants of 604 Euro.

Moreover, by the end of April, letters will be mailed to close to 4,000 financially vulnerable Jewish victims of Nazi persecution of Romanian origin living in 37 countries outside of Romania and Israel. These 4,000 survivors have previously been identified as potentially eligible for payments.

Under a benefits programme for Serbian Jewish Holocaust survivors worldwide that was launched in April 2017 following negotiations with the Serbian government by World Jewish Restitution Organisation together with the Serbian Jewish community, more than 500 survivors from 19 countries have received payments, of whom over 239 currently live in Israel.

Further payments are due to be paid via this programme, which is the fruits of legislation supported by the US and Israel.