GENEVA — A total of 8,011 Soviet Jews were allowed to emigrate in 1987, with only 1,955, or 24.4%, going directly to Israel, the Intergovernmental Committee for Migration said Monday.
The 1987 figure was eight times more than the number of Jews who left the Soviet Union in 1986 and the largest number since 1981, when 9,860 Soviet Jews were allowed to leave. The emigrants go first to a transit center near Vienna, from where they decide to go either to Israel or to other countries.
Committee officials attributed the increase to liberalized emigration policies promoted by Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev.
But last year's 8,011 total was still far below annual figures in the 1970s before the Kremlin cut the departure of Soviet Jews to a trickle.
The Geneva-based committee, formerly called the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration, was established after World War II to aid the millions of refugees and displaced persons in Europe.