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Liebowitz offers support to those impacted by earthquake in Syria and Turkey

On Feb 11, university president Ron Liebowitz reached out to community members regarding the earthquake that impacted Syria and Turkey. The first earthquake occurred on Feb 6, followed by a series of aftershocks with high magnitudes. 

“Many of us at Brandeis have strong connections with people who have been devastated by this earthquake. I have reached out to individuals throughout this week to let them know that our community is thinking of them, offering the university’s support during this incredibly difficult time,” wrote Liebowitz. 

The earthquake occurred in Turkey, near the border of Syria with a 7.8 magnitude on the Richter scale, according to a BBC news article. A 7.8 magnitude is considered a “major” quake, according to the California Earthquake Authority; with a magnitude this high, damage is expected. “It broke along about 100km (62 miles) of fault line, causing serious damage to buildings near the fault,” according to the BBC article. Aftershocks then ripped through the area with a second quake reaching a 7.5 magnitude just north of where the initial quake occurred. With earthquakes of this size, aftershocks can be felt for up to a year after the initial quake. Given the historical context of this region’s geography and earthquakes, scientists are predicting a trend of aftershocks over the next year, according to the BBC article

The epicenter of the initial quake was just outside of Gaziantep, Turkey. The greatest impact was in the area surrounding Gaziantep, though its effects were felt beyond into central Turkey with moderate to strong shaking. The tectonic plates responsible for the friction which provoked the earthquake were the Arabian plate moving northwards and hitting against the Anatolian plate, according to the BBC article

The first earthquake occurred in the early hours of the morning while civilians were sleeping. This adds to the devastation caused by this event since people were inside and the quake challenged the structural integrity of buildings. With many structures being crumbled with people inside the rescue effort becomes difficult for first responders to get to people in a timely fashion, according to the BBC article

At the time when the email was shared with community members, the death toll had been nearing 24,000, according to Liebowitz, though it was expected to rise in the following days. The death toll as of publication currently sits at 42,001 people, according to live updates from Reuters. According to those updates, at this time at least 114,926 people have suffered non-fatal injuries, at least 2.4 million people displaced and at least 24 million people impacted. 

“Thousands of survivors now face what the World Health Organization has called ‘a secondary disaster,’ as they confront cold weather conditions without a place to live,” wrote Liebowitz. 

Given the event, Liebowitz wanted to call community members together, to support those impacted and to get involved in ways to help. Liebowitz went on to share vetted organizations that are providing relief to the people of Turkey and Syria which he encouraged community members to donate to. 

Donation organizations included the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), a humanitarian organization on the ground in Turkey and Syria deploying resources to children and families in need. The Turkish Red Cresent is the largest humanitarian organization in Turkey, though their site is temporarily down for maintenance. Humanity and Inclusion is an organization which supports 3.1 million people across 60 countries currently distributing food and essentials to seniors and people wth disabilities. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an organization which deploys medical aid to those in need and have been working since the first quake hit. Liebowitz also recommended donating to the Syrian American Medical Society which is providing urgent care to those in need, community members can donate by texting EarthquakeSyria to 71777 or by going to their website

“I know that many of us are feeling a deep sadness for those who have been affected by this tragedy. In times such as these, Brandesians come together, in our shared commitment to do what we can to help repair the world. I am so very fortunate to be a part of a community of people who care so deeply for one another,” wrote Liebowitz.

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