Statement: War in Ukraine a Massive Humanitarian Crisis That Could Widen Into Even Greater Tragedy

Posted 4 June 2022

The escalating war in Ukraine has resulted in a massive humanitarian crisis with the potential for even greater—and widening—tragedy in the upcoming months. The horrors of war come not only from the obvious trauma of the fighting, but also from infectious diseases, malnutrition and the severe mental health consequences, among many other effects. Civilians often suffer the most.
ASTMH members have a long history of clinical work, research and advocacy in the realm of refugee and immigrant health. We understand that healthcare emergencies worldwide impact people, health systems and economies in countries at war and across the globe. 
As a Society committed to global health and health as a human right, we implore Russia and President Vladimir Putin to:
  • Open safe humanitarian corridors for civilian passage
  • Allow food and medical aid to enter Ukraine
  • Stop the horrific attacks on hospitals and healthcare workers designed to terrorize Ukrainians into submission
We also call on President Joe Biden and the U.S. Congress to:
  • Do its utmost to achieve the 2022 refugee resettlement ceiling of 125,000 granted entry into the United States
  • Grant temporary protected status to Ukrainians living in the U.S. when war broke out, as was done for Liberians and others in the past
"The unspeakable tragedy of war in Ukraine has created a humanitarian disaster with worldwide implications," said 2017 President Patricia F. Walker, MD, DTM&H, FASTMH, a leading authority on refugee health. "Refugees and the internally displaced need access to humanitarian aid, financial resources and medical care. The all-too-recent U.S.-Afghan refugee/asylee crisis and ongoing wars in Tigray, Ethiopia and elsewhere, serve as a reminder of the tremendous local and international public and private efforts that must be galvanized to reduce human suffering." 
President Daniel Bausch, MD, MPH&TM, FASTMH, added, "Sadly, this event represents a major theme for ASTMH this year, including at the upcoming Annual Meeting – 'Global Health = Human Rights.' The two cannot be divorced."