A message regarding the Earthquake in Turkey and Syria

At 4:17 a.m. local time on Monday, February 6, 2023, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit communities in both of Turkey and Syria. According to a Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) report, “the quake could be felt as far away as Cairo, but the center was a major fault line in the region of Turkey’s southeastern province of Kahramanmaras, north of Gaziantep and near the border of Syria, whose infrastructure has already been wracked by years of civil war.”

The toll on human lives has been tragic. The Guardian reported that more than 12,000 were killed, 9,000 in Turkey and 3,000 in Syria as of Feb 8, 2023. Members of entire communities have been left homeless. The extensive damage to property, infrastructure, and the disruption of relief and emergency services (including food delivery), as well as harsh weather conditions, have exacerbated the impacts of the earthquakes.  The Guardian reports that, “Experts have predicted the toll in both countries will rise further, and perhaps more than double, as hundreds of collapsed buildings in many cities have become tombs for people who were asleep when the first quake hit in the early morning.”

The UBC, Faculty, and EDST communities include members (faculty, staff, and students) who have families, relatives, friends, and colleagues in the affected areas. Please reach out to those around you and are affected by the cataclysm. In these difficult moments, let your gesture be one of care, support, and solidarity.

Each one of us can make a humble difference, for instance:

  • The Canadian Red Cross has launched a donation appeal. Donations will be matched by the Canadian government. Donations can be designated for the purpose they have been donated for. Any residual funds – quite unlikely given the magnitude of the cataclysm – will be spent on disasters and emergency situations worldwide.
  • The charity Save The Children has also set up a donation appeal.
  • UBC opened “a Turkey and Syria earthquake crisis line. If you have been emotionally affected by the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, call the Employee and Family Assistance Program crisis support number, 1-844-751-2133 to receive professional emotional support and/or referral to community resources.”

In these difficult moments for many members of our campus community, be considerate and solidary.


Thank you.




Responding beyond: Update and Reflections on the Turkey & Syria Earthquakes


Since the earthquakes hit Turkey and Syria on Monday, February 6th, 2023, the number of human casualties has more than doubled, reaching over 46,000 dead, of which over 40,000 were killed in Turkey and over 5,800 were killed in Syria. Media outlets continue to report that victims are being rescued alive from the rubble 13 days after the earthquake. More than one million people are living in tent encampments in Turkey alone. In a general state of hopelessness, children’s future is at risk, among other due to challenges facing neo-natal complications, challenges facing the provision of children’s immunization and health services, and the more general disruption of children-related activities, including schooling.  The challenges facing families and communities who seek to rebuild their lives from scratch are mammoth. For so many, sheer survival is the order of the day.


A number of community members at UBC continue to be touched by the consequences of the earthquakes, with families, relatives, friends, and colleagues affected by the calamity. How we express our care and solidarity with those affected remains therefore a priority to consider. No doubt, aid and donations (e.g., to the Canadian Red Cross) represent the most tangible way in which support can be extended to those affected. Yet, it is equally important to remember that reaching out to peers, co-workers, and colleagues around us who are concerned by the cataclysm is equally important. For a community like EDST to be genuinely inclusive and hospitable, reaching out and supporting those affected represents an extension of our coming together as a community. The EDST GAA Team initiated a relief support to victims of the earthquake, starting from the very second day of the earthquake (Feb 7). The GAA’s appeal included information regarding donations, the collection of life-support and clothing items, and the placement of a collection box in the EDST offices and at the nest on campus. Such expressions of care and solidary engagement with those affected are commendable.


The “message of sympathy and support to the UBC community about the earthquake tragedy in Türkiye and Syria” published by the Office of the Vice-Provost International captures the sentiments of the campus community, no doubt. That said, can we go beyond mere statements? Can we consider ways of reaching out to those affected in our very midst? While the earthquake hit there, one ought to recognize that the earthquake hit here, in our midst, too, through its ramifications, implications, and the geographic entanglements of mobility and internationalization we embody on this diverse, multicultural and internationally-oriented campus. Or, have we forgotten? Thinking about the calamity that took place in Turkey and Syria – or that which happens in any place for that purpose – as a calamity always-already in our here and nowhelps us articulate new forms of solidarity and new forms of engagement beyond arbitrary spatial delimitations and political boundaries. Such delimitations – when they become solidified geo-spatial constructs of Othering – seem to me to operate as a mere subterfuge of exclusion. 


Can we respond beyond statements? Can we engage new foci of solidarity, for instance by setting up digital platforms, organizing goodies/item sales, or by partnering with support organizations and student groups on campus? Can tools we have at our disposal – e.g., courses, assignments, research projects, panels, presentations – be thought of and through as spaces of engagement towards the generation of new forms of solidary knowledge and forms of being? If we cannot use these tools for any meaningful end, how could we then argue that our programmatic offerings carry the promise of a transformative experience and a redeemed humanity?



(February 18, 2023)