On Wednesday, a cargo plane full of medications, medical supplies, food, and humanitarian aid departed Ben Gurion airport in Israel and headed for Kosice, Slovakia. The cargo plane carried 16 tons of supplies that would be used on the ground within Ukraine itself to assist refugees suffering as a result of the current conflict in their country.

The cargo flight sponsored by the Helmsley Foundation being offloaded in Kosice 1024x768 1
The cargo flight sponsored by the Helmsley Foundation being offloaded in Kosice


Part of the grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust will provide medical equipment for a fleet of ambulances and other response vehicles, which will be operated by United Hatzalah volunteers on the ground and used to evacuate ill and injured people from Ukraine. United Hatzalah will bring them to a safe location to receive proper medical care either in Poland or, in certain circumstances, by flying them to Israel on one of United Hatzalah’s rescue flights as part of Operation Orange Wings.

President and Founder of United Hatzalah, Eli Beer, thanked Helmsley for its continuing support of United Hatzalah’s efforts to aid Ukrainian refugees. “We have now received two major grants from Helmsley that total $1.124 million. I want to thank Helmsley for giving us everything we requested for this mission – medical equipment, as well as funding for this flight to Slovakia. Helmsley has helped our organization reach a new level of humanitarian aid and assistance for the Ukrainian refugees. Never before has United Hatzalah taken upon itself an operation of this magnitude. Thanks to Helmsley’s support, we have succeeded and surpassed our wildest dreams of how much we can do. It is thanks to them and people and foundations like them, who have shown so much humanity during these dark times and have taught us that where there is a will to help, then there is a way.”

Sandor Frankel, one of Helmsley’s Trustees, said, “Helmsley is grateful to United Hatzalah for immediately mobilizing to assist Ukrainian refugees needing medical care and help them make their way out of Ukraine to safety in Israel and elsewhere. Times like this cry out for immediate philanthropic support, and Helmsley is pleased to have been able to step up.”

As soon as the Russia-Ukraine war erupted, United Hatzalah mobilized, sending an initial delegation of 15 medical and psychotrauma responders to the Moldova-Ukraine borders. This initial team assessed the needs on the ground and were quickly followed by additional volunteers, who undertook numerous tasks assisting Ukrainian refugees at the border crossings of Mogilev and Palanca and within refugee centers in and around the capital city of Chisinau. To date, United Hatzalah has provided a multi-faceted humanitarian response, providing relief to 35,000 refugees, bringing 60 tons of aid to the region, and chartering regular rescue flights that brought 2,000 refugees to safety in Israel.

The organization also undertook a series of covert operations that have rescued more than 20 individuals from inside Ukraine itself. These rescue operations helped newborn surrogate infants, elderly Holocaust survivors, and injured and ill families who could not evacuate the country on their own due to their various ages and medical conditions.

With the advancement of the war and further Ukraine cities and communities under fire, United Hatzalah has recognized the need to expand its emergency operations to respond to the evolving crisis. The next stage of the organization’s activity will focus on urgent needs where it is uniquely suited to mobilize quickly and accomplish complex missions. These missions include sending additional cargo flights to Slovakia and other border countries to bring food, medical equipment, medications, and humanitarian supplies into Ukraine to address the increasing shortage of food and supplies inside the country.

The organization is also undertaking the provision of medical care and medical evacuation of Ukraine’s most vulnerable people across the borders to ensure their safety. These missions within Ukraine will ensure the health and safety of the sick and injured, including new mothers with their babies, cancer patients, and others who are bed-ridden and unable to make the long arduous, and dangerous journey to safety independently. Helmsley’s grant will facilitate these missions by providing ambulances and rescue vehicles outfitted with the advanced medical equipment necessary for patient care in Ukraine and during transit to safety.

Vice President of Operations for United Hatzalah Dov Maisel said, “Sending supplies and medical teams into Ukraine is a huge challenge logistically, and quite dangerous. Yet, we have successfully carried out a growing number of these life-saving missions. When no longer needed in the region, the advanced medical supplies will be brought back to Israel for day-to-day lifesaving response and will be available for additional international crisis response incidents in the future, should the need arise.”

To support United Hatzalah’s efforts to aid and assist Ukrainian refugees, please click here.