Germany doubles aid for care of Holocaust survivors

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Germany said Tuesday it is doubling to 110 million euros (147 million dollars) the annual amount it provides for homecare of elderly Holocaust survivors, despite a recent fraud scandal.

"The increase takes into account the strong rise in the need for homecare for elderly survivors," the finance ministry in Berlin said, adding that the decision still needed parliamentary approval.

The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany will allocate the funds to agencies in 32 countries providing in-home nursing and help with eating, dressing and bathing.

For 2011 in total it is allocating around 270 million dollars for services to Nazi victims in 46 countries including hunger relief, medical aid, winter assistance, transportation and help in applying for government benefits.

"In their final years, survivors who need care and services should not have to fear that they will be forgotten," the New York-based organisation's negotiator Stuart Eizenstat said in a statement.

"Germany has been exemplary in facing its past, and the government has demonstrated its commitment to alleviating the plight of elderly victims who need the care that these funds will provide."

The announcement comes after the Claims Conference became engulfed in a scandal in November that saw 17 people charged in the United States over 5,500 alleged payments to people who were not Holocaust survivors.

An indictment in New York said a network of individuals -- including six employees who worked for the Claims Conference -- systematically defrauded the fund out of 42 million dollars between 2000 and 2009.

In exchange for arranging payments to people who did not qualify for the programme, these insiders allegedly kept a portion of the money for themselves and their co-conspirators.

Neither the German government nor the Claims Conference commented on the scandal in their statements on Tuesday.

© 2010 AFP

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