‘No one was able to save them in time’: Notts students affected by Turkey-Syria earthquake

‘As the Turkish community we are expecting everyone and anyone to help raise awareness’

On February 6th, regions of Turkey and Syria were struck by two devastating earthquakes with initial 7.8 and 7.7 magnitude tremors, followed by strong aftershocks that left a path of rubble and claimed thousands of lives. The combined fatalities from Turkey and Syria has now surpassed 19,000. 

We wanted to share the personal side to this tragedy and amplify the voices of those that have been affected. Speaking to members from the University of Nottingham Turkish Society, they shared some of their thoughts.

via @uonturkishsoc

Second year veterinary medicine student Azell, said: “We’re seeing an overwhelming amount of social media posts of locations of victims under the rubble who need rescuing, and hours later we’re alerted by families that they have died because no one was able to save them in time.

“This is a case of government negligence. The areas affected have large Alevi and Kurdish populations, and the government has been refusing to build basic infrastructure, let alone seismic-proof infrastructure, for years and years. Many Kurdish and Alevi villages, including my own, don’t even have proper roads.

Azell went on to say: “Alevi and Kurdish people have historically been marginalised in Turkey. They have had to flee to destitute locations, often in between mountains, to escape genocide from the Turkish state. As a result, they are not accessing aid because of how geographically isolated they are.”

We also spoke to Nazo who has been heading up the donations effort. She said: “We expect the numbers of those with injuries to climb. The next steps after this are even more crucial as these people will be losing their homes and living in tents for a while.”

Nazo added: “As the Turkish community we are expecting everyone and anyone to help raise awareness.”

The Tab Nottingham contacted the Turkish Embassy for comment.

They responded, saying: “As the result of two earthquakes on a same day, which have the biggest magnitude recorded in Türkiye for 80 years, 10 provinces and a total population of around 13 million are heavily affected. According to currently available information, there are 9057 dead and 52979 injured in disaster areas.”

“We are deeply touched by the pouring messages of support and solidarity from all over the world and the UK.

“Türkiye, located at a historical and geographic crossroads, is now home to 85 million from different ethnic and religious backgrounds. There were many natural disasters in our country in the past and they were overcome through solidarity.

“We do not keep statistics regarding the ethnic or religious background of our citizens who are dead, injured or waiting to be rescued under collapsed buildings.

“State agencies together with local authorities and civil society organizations are working tirelessly to save our citizens with the help of our international partners including from the UK.

“Therefore, we categorically reject any accusations that the Government of Türkiye is discriminating ethnically or religiously, and we condemn those who approach this disaster from (an) ethnic or religious perspective.”

In a statement posted to University of Nottingham’s website, the university has extended support to students who are likely to have been affected.

“If you have been directly impacted by these events and are struggling with any issues – including academic matters or wellbeing problems – then we encourage you to reach out to us. You can book either a virtual or an in-person appointment through MyWellbeing by logging into the Student Life portal.

“You may also wish to reach out to your tutor or supervisor for further support and guidance. Chaplaincy and Faith Support also offer pastoral support and guidance for those with or without a faith.”

The university has also shared various channels to donate to the relief effort, shared below are some of the organisations: Disasters Emergency Committee / UNICEF / Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management aid campaign / Turkish Red Crescent

How can you help today?

Nazo and others from Turkish Society will be holding a bake sale on C floor of the Portland building 9-6pm today, Thursday 9th February.

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