Robert van Voren is Chief Executive of Global Initiative on Psychiatry and Professor of Soviet and Post-Soviet Studies at Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas (Lithuania) and Ilia State University in Tbilisi (Georgia). He is a Honorary Fellow of the British Royal College of Psychiatrists and Honorary Member of the Ukrainian Psychiatric Association. He was also Permanent Representative of Ukraine in the Benelux for Humanitarian Affairs 1994-1997. In 2005 he was knighted by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands for his work as a human rights activist.
Maidan Medical Support Fund - Appeal by Robert van Voren
Dear friends, colleagues, partners,
As you know, over the past days I have been in Kyiv at the Maidan, trying to assist where possible and organizing a support program for the emergency medical services there. Currently, momentous events are happing in Ukraine. What started as a protest by students in favor of an associate agreement with the European Union turned into a people’s uprising against an autocratic and corrupt regime. After three months of mass demonstrations at the Maidan in Kyiv, and later in cities all across Ukraine, the old rulers are fleeing the country.
The revolution came at a very high cost. Thousands of demonstrators were wounded, some losing eyes or limbs, and at least one hundred activists were shot dead by riot police and snipers operating from tall buildings around the square. Undoubtedly, the number of dead will rise considerably, as many people are unaccounted for and there are fears dozens might have been killed and left in mass graves in the forests.
The Maidan medical teams, all volunteers of various ages and backgrounds, performed heroic deeds. They worked at the front line, rescuing wounded activists, while they themselves were under constant attack. In violation of all rules of engagement and conventions, riot police and snipers were specifically targeting medics. They were wounded by snipers, beaten, abducted or arrested for performing their professional responsibilities. They put the Hippocratic Oath into effect and deserve our support and admiration.
While their work can now gradually be taken over by regular medical services, both in Ukraine and abroad, the main challenge is now to take care of those traumatized by the events. These include activists who fought at the front line and who saw their buddies being wounded or killed, these include the relatives of those killed, these also include the volunteers of the Maidan hospital, who saw the wounded and killed being brought in by the dozen, and who had to perform operations in hotel lobbies and churches and treat the wounded right at the battle zone.
We wish to help those dealing with trauma and grief by providing specialized trauma care, offered by experts from the region who know the circumstances and environment, and speak the language of those affected. We work closely with centers and individual specialists in the region, who have a long-lasting experience in similar situations. We want to train Ukrainian personnel, who can follow up and develop their own expertise. And we want to support the medical personnel in putting their lives back on track, and make sure they will manage to give the traumatic events a place in their lives.
My request to you is to support our work, either through donations or by disseminating this appeal. Much work is ahead, there is no time to lose. Your support is very much needed.
I thank you very much in advance
Robert van Voren