Oct. 14 (UPI) -- The German government on Wednesday agreed to pay $664 million in aid to victims of the Holocaust as they deal with the economic hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Claims Conference, an organization that negotiates such payouts from the German government to survivors, said talks will result in "significant" increases in compensation.
About 240,000 survivors of the Holocaust living around the world will receive the payments over the next two years. Most live in Israel, North America, the former Soviet Union and Western Europe.
"These increased benefits achieved by the hard work of our negotiation's delegation during these unprecedented times, will help our efforts to ensure dignity and stability in survivors' final years," said Gideon Taylor, president of the Claims Conference.
"We must meet the challenges of the increasing needs of survivors as they age, coupled with the new and urgent necessities caused by the global pandemic. It will always remain our moral imperative to keep fighting for every survivor."
The survivors will each receive a payment of about $1,400 for each of the next two years, with the first slated to go out in December. The funds will help the recipients with the added costs of dealing with the pandemic -- purchasing masks and other personal protective equipment, and paying extra fees for deliveries as they stay home.
The Claims Conference said many of the recipients are elderly, in poor health, face emotional trauma and live in poverty.
"This new agreement will benefit tens of thousands of the poorest survivors alive," said the organization's executive vice president, Greg Schneider.
"As survivors age their needs grow ever greater and our persistence does not diminish; we continue to achieve increases in compensation and social welfare services at the same time. Survivors deserve no less but sadly, their needs will soon wane as survivors pass away in even greater numbers making it an imperative that we continue to meet the challenges they face."