April 20, 2022 – More than 50 days have passed since a new war in Europe started. Ukraine’s invasion by Russia initiated a conflict in Eastern Europe which led to the most significant human migration in our continent since World War II. This war has caused immense suffering and losses to the civil population in Ukraine, not to mention the military losses on both sides. A human life is a life, whether dressed a military fatigue or not, but it hurts to see civilians affected (and killed) because of a war that is difficult to understand, especially in the 21st Century. This goes beyond the conflict in Ukraine and teaches us that we may be very advanced in some fields, but our primal instincts for fighting and causing suffering in others still exist.
ESCI is a Pan-National society with no borders and could not care less about religions, nationalities, or genders. ESCI is a non-political society that unites fundamental scientists and clinicians, contributing to the excellence of biomedical science in Europe and elsewhere. ESCI believes that bridges must be built, not destroyed. We also believe that scientists should stay away from embracing extreme political views which do not contribute to build those same bridges. Science progress has always been built on top of international collaborations. Let us not forget covid-19 vaccines, the human genome project, the international space station, or CERN Large Hadron Collider. Those examples of international collaboration led to enterprises that are a testimony of human engineering and progress.
A conclusion from the current war in Ukraine and in other places on Earth is that scientists do not start wars, do not invade other countries, do not cause massive loss of human lives. Scientists are also often used by politicians inasmuch as science is “cherry picked”, i.e. misrepresented to justify political measures, and off-targets of wrong political decisions in most cases. The current war in Ukraine has left thousands of Ukrainian scientists without a place to work, many moving to other countries to do what they like the most, at the same time often losing family members and their homes. Let us not forget the Russian side. Thousands of scientists that never agreed to the so-called “special operation” in Ukraine have now to silence their opinions, risking consequences otherwise. Also, losing in this process collaborations with Western colleagues and joint funding. And again, this all results from decisions at the highest political level that scientists never had access to (the same in all wars).
ESCI strongly condemns all forms of WAR, regardless of where they are occurring, and deeply regrets all human suffering. No life should be wasted based on political decisions of people who are comfortably sitting in a far away office. ESCI strongly supports the victims of the war in Ukraine and will help Ukrainian (and Russian) scientists who would like to continue their careers in other countries to find proper opportunities. ESCI strongly stimulates collaborations that link scientists and clinicians from different countries, aiming to improve research and the quality of life for everybody. ESCI will not contribute to severing ties.
A final word for all the health personnel who have to act to save lives in all areas of conflict on Earth, often under severely adverse conditions while being the off-target (or main target, who knows) of military operations. The scrutiny of the war in Ukraine shows us episodes of courage and perseverance under very harsh conditions to save as many lives as possible. Unsung heroes of these trouble eras.
Time is a Universal Judge. Time will judge those who stood in the wrong side of History. By advocating science, humanity and continuous collaboration, ESCI aims to stay on the right side. We hope this war ends as soon as possible and that reason prevails.
Paulo J. Oliveira
On behalf of the ESCI Council