In response to the ongoing environmental disasters caused by recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, Oxford’s student societies have sought to raise funds for aid and greater general awareness.
The ‘Turkey-Syria Earthquake Bake Sale’, spearheaded by the Oxford University Turkish Society and Oxford Syria Society, was an initiative with mass student participation that raised huge donations in order to help assist the relief efforts. Between the 10th and 13th of February (9 am to 5 pm), in the Radcliffe Square, over £9000 was raised. Further funds have been raised through QR codes displayed on posters, allowing people to directly donate to the AHBAP and White Helmets charities.
Individual colleges, too, have taken independent action to support Turkey and Syria. Initiatives such as pantry fundraising by the Balliol JCR hope to be able to make a meaningful impact for those on the ground.
For those at Oxford, issues concerning the wellbeing of affected students has been recognised by the administrative body of the university. The university’s official email of support illustrated external points of contact for help and guidance, as well as offering internal welfare and counselling services.
Mina Yücelen, an active member of the Oxford University Turkish Society, told Cherwell that she appreciated the email from the university and the support she was getting from tutors. Nonetheless, she wishes that more diverse, proactive and instant access to mental health professionals would be made available to all those who are adversely affected by the earthquakes.
The devastation of the earthquakes in large parts of Turkey and Syria has continued to be felt in the week following their occurrence.
The first, striking with a magnitude of at least 7.8 on the seismic magnitude scale, followed hours later by another of 7.5, are already being considered as some of the most destructive earthquakes of the modern period. The reported death toll has already far exceeded 35,000 and is expected to continue rising amid international rescue efforts.
Recent UNICEF analysis indicates that in Syria alone, the earthquake has affected more than 10.9 million people with as many as 5.3 million people displaced and totalling an estimated 23 million people directly affected.
In an official message sent out by the University of Oxford, the university offered their ‘deepest sympathy’ and the provision of support to any students affected by recent events.