The dividing line at Paris’s square of unity

The dividing line at Paris’s square of unity

The statue of Marianne, the national symbol of the French Republic, towers more than a hundred feet above Paris’s sprawling Place de la République, an olive branch in her hand.

On the evening of the anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, the square is bustling. Locals and tourists circle around Marianne in an almost processional way while a Joe Strummer lookalike stands up on the plinth with a guitar and microphone.

Marianne herself is bathed in the bright lights of the news crews here to cover the sombre anniversary, but the tents of almost two hundred refugees right behind them remain barely lit. Continue reading “The dividing line at Paris’s square of unity”

“Everyone here is a newcomer”: Fort McMurray readies for Syrian refugees

ft mac

Canada’s going to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees within the next three months, and at least a handful are going to find their way up to Fort McMurray, where they’ll try to build new lives in the heart of Canada’s struggling oil industry. Continue reading ““Everyone here is a newcomer”: Fort McMurray readies for Syrian refugees”

Syrian refugees’ mental health is top priority

In this Oct. 20 image, a distraught Syrian refugee disembarks from a flooded raft at a Greek beach.(CMAJ/REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis)

My new piece in CMAJ.

Doctors in a handful of clinics across Canada are preparing for the arrival of many thousands of refugees fleeing the war in Syria. So far only a few have arrived, but more are expected as part of the new government’s commitment to settle 25 000 Syrian refugees through 2016.

“The most significant part of our practice is dealing with mental health issues,” says Dr. Meb Rashid, who works at the Crossroads Clinic, a refugee clinic in Toronto, and is currently working with Lifeline Syria to establish clinics for the expected influx of Syrian refugees in Toronto.

The impact of the war on Syrians’ mental health is impossible to ignore. The Syrians he has met in Canada all have family back home, says Rashid, who co-founded Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care, They get anxious and anguished when they are not able to get in touch with their family members. When they are finally able to reach them, they often hear gunfire and shelling in the background. Continue reading “Syrian refugees’ mental health is top priority”