the diabetic refugees we must never forget


Today I want to talk about diabetes for the less fortunate people around the world. Another post will follow on a campaign that is around on this issue but today I just want to get down to gritty facts and politics and realism. I just want people to think. The world is looking at the greatest movement of people since world war two. Hundreds of thousands, millions of people are fleeing their homes in war torn nations. Syria is haemorrhaging its population as Assad, Isis, Resistance fighters and so called ‘allies’ of various groups bomb it to smithereens. The before and after images of cities such as Aleppo are important viewing for those who think people are fleeing purely for financial reasons. No one puts a child in a dingy boat unless the boat is safer from the land. Sure there are unemployed people, shop workers and criminals trying to get through but there are also Doctors, Lawyers and Teachers too.

Many fleeing are diabetic. Raghad Hasoun died when traffickers threw her insulin overboard when it was one bag over the limit and her mother lost her grip on the other supplies.  She is perhaps the better known case, at least in diabetic circles, but she is far from the only one. Syrian pharmacies have been obliterated in many places and the ones left are not exactly getting a steady supply of orders in by  UPS courier anymore.  Many flee to MSF camps but they are struggling to keep up with demand. On top of that, the conditions these diabetics find them in are dangerous not just because of bullets or bombs but because of dirt and disease. The slightest cut on a rock as they flee the sound of a drone or a talk could get infected while their family are helpless to get anything to treat the wound.  Syria was actually a beacon of hope for many diabetics before the war as supplies there were far cheaper than in Lebanon for example. So you have all those diabetics there also now struggling, just for a hormone we learned to treat with over a century ago. Yet still the prices kill people.

I have problems as a diabetic in Scotland and often they are huge and important problems but it is still humbling to read of Raghad or people like her. I want to be able to help them but knowing how is difficult. Today I think the way to help is to share their stories and their plight. Many of them marching across Serbia or clinging to a boat on the way to Turkey or even sitting in a hostel in Iraq or Egypt will  not have access to internet and if they do I doubt their diabetes is something at the forefront of their mind to talk about. That is why I want to remind everyone they exist for them. Not just as refugees but as fellow diabetics struggling to get enough insulin to survive. Diabetics struggling to tell aid workers in other countries what they need without having the language to do so. I speak for the diabetics who get insulin but the not the stuff they usually have and so are wrestling to understand a new way of living while in a new country, hated by many around them and unable to properly communicate.

I don’t want to link to articles and overwhelm readers but if you google a combination of words involving diabetes and syria or refugees or war and pages and pages will appear. So yes, I am in the first world and yes the NHS is fantastic but I will always remember those without when I get angry that the Doctor doesn’t want me to have another box of strips. I will fight my case but I will also send insulin I can’t use or don’t need to places far away that can and do. I will do everything I can with every source I find myself able to utilise because no one deserves to survive fleeing war and terror only to die over a vial of insulin that costs so little when it comes down to the fact that it will save a life.


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