Today, Moldova is home to 23,000 Jews living in some of the worst conditions facing any Jewish community. WJR has been providing support and assistance through its programmes for many years to aid this fragile community. Presently, about 15,000 Jews and Jewish family members reside in Kishinev. The Jewish community is an aging community, with the elderly comprising a quarter to one half of the total Jewish population and one third of Moldovan Jewish families are single parents. Wages are meagre, as are pensions.
Moldova is the poorest country in Europe and is entirely landlocked. The country’s economy depends heavily upon agriculture. Petrol, coal and natural gas are all imported, primarily from Russia. In 2009, GDP fell about 8% due to the global economic crisis; unemployment doubled and inflation disappeared. Economic reforms have been slow because of corruption and strong political forces backing government controls. The economy remains vulnerable to political uncertainty, higher fuel prices, poor agricultural weather, and the scepticism of foreign investors. A quarter of Moldova’s population live on less than $2 a day and approximately 66% of the Jewish population suffer from economic hardships. The elderly comprise of about a quarter of the total Jewish population and are particualrly vulnerable to price fluctuations as their pensions are far below what is necessary for basic needs.
Moldovan adults are forced to find suitable jobs in the neighbouring countries. This massive economic migration has aggravated the situation of Moldovan children. Left behind are an estimated 150,000 to 270,000 children either without a mother or a father, and around 40,000 who are separated from both parents. It is estimated that there are approximately 12,000 children living in institutional care in Moldova today.
Population = 4,317,483
Jewish population = 22,000
Life expectancy at birth = 71 years
Population below poverty line = 29.5%
Unemployment rate = 3.4%
GDP per capita = $3,400
Inflation rate = 7.3%