(Mary Anne Sexsmith-Segato/The Canadian Press/AP)
Fire in Alberta, Canada

IsraAid, an Israel-based NGO, sent a team to help 90.000 displaced people after a massive wildfire devastated a region in the western province of Alberta. 

For over a decade, IsraAid, an Israel-based non-profit, non-governmental organization has provided life-saving disaster relief and long-term support in crisis all over the world. For the first time, it is deploying a team in Canada,  where 90,000 residents of Fort McMurray, Alberta, and the surrounding area were evacuated due to a wildfire that broke out on Tuesday.

Shachar Zahavi, IsraAid’s founding director, told the Canadian Jewish News (CJN) by phone from Tel Aviv that his group had volunteers on the ground, focusing primarily on “psycho-social interventions” in order o deal with the needs and responses of the evacuees, who are staying in temporary shelters.

This is an expertise in which Israel is a leader, he stressed, adding that once the fire stops burning, they’ll send a team to help clean up the debris.

“We’re usually working in developing countries, although we’ve been to the United States about 10 times to help with things like hurricanes and tornadoes… We help fill in the gaps [of existing relief work],” he told the CJN. “Often, in disaster areas, many volunteers will come help for a week or so but then need to go back to work. But we come specially and we stay for two or three weeks, so that’s an advantage other groups don’t have.”

IsraAid often partners with UJA Federation of Greater Toronto and other Canadian Jewish federations, Zahavi said. Indeed, several Jewish groups are helping the displaced residents, including Ve’ahavta, a Toronto-based social service organization.

By: Terri Nir
(With files from the Canadian Jewish News)