One year on, I remember the frightening night-time pictures of Russian bombs being dropped on Ukraine, obliterating tower blocks, writes Chiddingfold GP Dr Talha Sami.
It evoked graphic memories from several years ago when we saw bombs dropped on Iraq, Syria and many other countries.
Since then eight million Ukrainians crossed into Poland alone. Up to 70 per cent are women. Forty per cent of them have serious chronic diseases such as heart problems, cancer, diabetes or lung problems. One in ten Ukrainian refugees suffer with a significant mental health problem.
All these situations, whether in Europe or otherwise, have created instability and long-lasting refugee crises around the world that are impacting much later after the original provocation.
The masses suffer. The total needs of refugees are extensive and cumulative over time. We need to think about inviting them, housing them, putting them through schools, orientating them into the community just to begin with.
I spent some time in a refugee clinic and saw first-hand the mental distress the patients have gone through – and still go through. Ongoing concerns about safety, finances, visa applications and health problems resound. Management of perhaps poorly-treated existing conditions and now a new psychological component in a foreign country with a new language and new rules.
This hits close to home. My grandparents left a hastily-arranged partition of India resulting in the deaths of up to two million innocents from communal violence in one of the biggest migrations in the past few hundred years.
My grandmother’s (who was just a teenager at the time) entire family was killed in front of her while she watched, hiding in stacks of hay. Several decades later I saw the pain in her eyes that never left her.
Consequently I strongly believe we should aid all those fleeing from war. No matter what their colour, religion or background.
So how can we help?
- Some wonderful people have opened up their homes, fed, watered and cared for our fellow humans.
- Maybe learning a bit about Ukraine so we can show our support when we do come across them in our daily lives. A few Ukrainian phrases wouldn’t go amiss?
- Connecting the Ukrainians in our local communities will bring them together as well as us.
- Perhaps a donation to reputable charities may help their homeland
- Think of the longer-term needs that we ourselves need. That’s what they need too.
My principle is we should do good to everybody. Just as a physician diagnoses and treats everybody, be he a Hindu or a Christian, so also you should follow the principle of doing good to all and sundry.
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (Quoted from Malfoozat Vol. III, p.319)
DR TALHA SAMI has been working for ten years in the NHS. He is the author of the limited edition Take A Deep Breath: Diary of a Junior Doctor in the Covid Pandemic and Essential Guide to the RCA for the MRCGP’. He is a frequent contributor to the BBC on medical affairs and recently became a partner at Chiddingfold Surgery.