‘The Ides of March’: On Ukraine, the West, and the rest of the world

Melissa Chemam
2 min readMar 11, 2022

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We’re not going to pretend otherwise, these past 14 days have been difficult…

Forced to read, mostly powerless, how the dangerous events have unfolded between Russia, Ukraine, the UK, the US and the EU, I felt a major empathy for the new refugees.

I’ve been worrying 24/7 and a few mornings, after sleeping poorly and waking up every hour, I literally woke dreaming that I was running away from Nazis and that people around me seemed unaware… Dead bodies on the streets….

I covered a few conflicts in my career, and mostly post-conflit situations, with refugee crises. My mother, my father, my grandparents all have been directly deeply affected by wars.

This needs to stop. War needs to stop…

As a journalist, I’m hardly able to help, glued to the news. As an educator… It’s difficult to go on as if everything was normal. As an anti-colonialist, frankly, as if the news of the invasion of Ukraine by its powerful neighbour and former imperial force, the media coverage is also shockingly biased, compared to other conflicts.

As usual, the media, and especially British media:

1. started by focusing on the powerful, the money, the economy

2. neglected the local context

3. reflected an unbearable difference between the Syrian refugee crisis of 2015 and this crisis, with journalists literally stating that ‘Ukrainians’ are ‘blond, educated, civilised and middle-class’, like the British & American audiences…

Where comparisons with the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen would have been useful, the national media started by quoting only US President Biden and the British government.

And of course the situation in Palestine.

I believe we urgently need to rethink our treatment of foreign news, as the English language still dominates the world of communication on most platforms.

If we claim diversity is important inside our country, how could it not be worldwide?

I’ve written so many drafts about these issues over the years; I even drafted a book project on western media and world news.

If you’re interested in commissioning a pice about this, please get in touch:

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Melissa Chemam

Freelance journalist/writer, I’ve reported in 30 countries for the BBC, CBC, DW, magazines, on African-European relations, social change, arts, music & politics