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Appeals for support after tragic earthquake

International education stakeholders are urging the sector for support following two devastating earthquakes that have affected regions across south-eastern Turkey and Syria.

The earthquakes hit densely populated areas in South East Turkey and Syria. Photo: Wikimedia

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said 45 countries had offered support

At time of publication, the death toll has reach 5,000 – 3,400 in Turkey and at least 1,600 in Syria – and severe weather conditions are hampering relief efforts.

[Update Feb 15, 9:40am: More than 41,000 people are known to have died in Turkey and Syria]

The first magnitude 7.8 quake hit early Monday morning when people were sleeping at home, with the epicentre near Gaziantep, before another with a magnitude of 7.5 struck in Kahramanmaras province to the north.

Nearly 6,000 buildings have been destroyed in Turkey, authorities say.

Vice-director for Global Education and Partnerships at Istanbul Aydin University, Ayşe Deniz Özkan, said the earthquakes, among the largest ever recorded in Turkey, affected some 10 cities and quite densely populated areas.

“The devastation is beyond words at the moment”

“The devastation is beyond words at the moment,” she told The PIE.

University campuses in Kahramanmaraş, Adana, Malatya, Adıyaman, Hatay, Şanlıurfa, Diyarbakır, Gaziantep, Kilis and Osmaniye have been adversely affected and closed, according to the Turkish Higher Education Council.

“There will be inspections of the damage and further announcements will be made about when and how to return to education. Meanwhile semester break will be extended for some time in the cities of Antalya, Bingöl, Elazığ, Erzincan, Karaman, Kayseri, Konya, Mardin, Mersin, Niğde, Sivas, Tunceli, which are close to the earthquake zone,” she explained.

“Their facilities and dormitories will be used for emergency housing. University hospitals will be reinforced and used to maximum capacity.”

Partnerships with universities around the world will be vital for the eventual rebuilding, she appealed.

Ceren Genc, who previously lived in Gaziantep while working for Dutch-based NGO Spark, said she had lost a colleague from a partner university.

“It’s sad. And it’s huge,” she told The PIE. “People are dying from cold if not from the collapsed building. Babies and people with bare feet, because the earthquake hit when people are in bed, feeling safe at home.”

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said 45 countries had offered support, according to the BBC. Nations such as Greece, Israel, Russia, Poland, Australia and many more have pledged financial support as well as contributing rescue workers and dogs.

“The disaster is so new that the effort is for search and rescue now, and getting immediate relief materials. Then the focus will shift to providing shelter, temporary housing etc,” Özkan continued.

“Eventually getting back to normal with services, education and finally rebuilding. It will last for months and years. But the news cycle is continuously changing and in a week or so you wont hear about the earthquake in Turkey.

“I want to call on the universities around the world to establish long-term partnerships with the universities in the area to help them rebuild their infrastructure and give them support in the next couple of years.

“At this stage of the disaster, the task at hand is so huge that state agencies have the capacity, so you can donate to government efforts (your own or Turkish). Eventually for the rebuilding, partnerships between universities, NGOs and other civil society actors will be important.”

Donation information:

Non-governmental search and rescue organisation, AKUT

Turkish voluntary network, Ahbap

Kaplan’s Turkey & Syria Earthquake Support Fund for Oxfam

IIE’s Türkiye and Syria Response


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