Sorry to see friends go!

HIAS director Yiftach Milo, has relocated to Romania, where he will be replicating his Aruba project, at the helm of HIAS’ Ukraine crisis response, for Romania and Moldova.

Yiftach arrived here three years ago armed with extensive experience in local and International NGOs and UN organizations in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean. His mission was to set up a HIAS center providing humanitarian aid to the large number of Venezuelan migrants and refugees on the island. He worked for a few months under the auspices of UNHCR, United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees, and eventually the government of Aruba gave the green light and Yiftach was able to hire a team of local professionals, and operate the HIAS center, offerings a great number of services, which is today located, above Wendy’s on the boulevard.

Yiftach ‘s well-attended farewell this week, was especially heartwarming. Staffers lauded his vision and passion for humanitarian work, and thanked him for leading them through challenging times, especially in view of the global pandemic, and helping make the center a vibrant address where adults, children and families find psycho, social and financial services, open hearts, listening ears and helping hands.

In his parting words Yiftach praised the multi-cultural aspects of Aruba’s society, and identified it as the island’s main source of strength and resilience. He congratulated Aruba on the solidarity expressed during the pandemic, and hoped that with time Aruba will finds ways to integrate all those living here, help them enter the job market, which would be beneficial to all parties, offering improved access to education and health services to the migrants, in exchange for residence, the privilege of paying taxes and contributing their talents to the country’s progress.

Yiftach also talked about the unpredictability of life. He never thought he would be working in the Caribbean, providing humanitarian aid to vulnerable Venezuelans. At the same time, he never expected to be called to Europe, where an ongoing war would misplace millions, with nearly one-third of Ukrainians forced from their homes since the onset of the Russian invasion.

Yiftach thanked sister-organization UNHCR, IOM – International Organization for Migration, VeneAruba Solidaria and his contact people within the Aruba government, his partners in Aruba’s civil society, especially the local community groups, for showing up when needed.

Yiftach and his partner Edy will be living in Bucharest with their Aruban cunucu dog, Joey. KLM delayed their flight for 30 minutes to allow Joey’s VIP transport from the international flight terminal to the regional flight. Thank-you KLM, Schiphol may encounter challenges, but it still delivers quality service.

From HIAS, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, website:

Founded: 2019
Staff size: 22
Country Director: Yiftach Millo
Office Location: Oranjestad

Since 2014, Aruba has become a destination for Venezuelan refugees and migrants. With a population of just over 110,000, Aruba hosts an estimated 17,000 Venezuelans. In 2019, Aruba’s government received more than 2,000 requests for asylum, yet most were rejected, leaving the majority of Venezuelans on the island without protection, access to basic health services, or legal employment. HIAS Aruba helps many vulnerable groups, including single women, women-headed households, survivors of gender-based violence (GBV), survivors of torture, older people, people with disabilities and serious medical conditions, and LGBTQ refugees. HIAS Aruba’s programs help refugees and asylum seekers to integrate into the local community. HIAS also provides training and remote services to refugees and migrants in Curacao and the Northern Caribbean.

The HIAS center in Aruba assesses and responds to the needs of vulnerable Venezuelans, with the goal of helping strengthen their abilities to mitigate risks, in both their private and professional life, so that they could live on the island in dignity and safety. The organization was founded in 1881, in the USA and operates in 17 countries around the world.



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October 10, 2022
Rona Coster