Jewish Agency aids orphans in Chechnya

More than 1,000 people are being currently held by Chechen gangsters looking for ransom money. As a result, Alla and her colleagues had to be escorted by a second car with three people in it, one of them an ethnic Chechen.

"When we crossed" into the nearby region of Ossetia, "there was already the smell of war in the air: lots of armed people, a charged atmosphere. The escorts wouldn't let us out of the car even for a minute for fear of kidnapping. When we crossed into Ingushetia the situation grew still more tense," said Levy.

When Levy and her co-workers finally reached the asylum, they were struck by the children's poor living conditions.

"The kids sleep together in their clothes to warm each other, there are no heaters and no hot water. But still more important is that the kids are living to the accompaniment of bombs and shell explosions, and nobody knows how long they have to live here," she said. "They badly need warm clothing and medicine."

She said the Jewish Agency is working to meet the children's most urgent needs.