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Events in the Middle East: support for our community

The appalling attacks on Israel, the escalating humanitarian crisis and the huge number of civilian deaths and casualties in Gaza, are of the utmost concern and deeply distressing to our community.

From the outset of the conflict, we have expressed distress and mounting concern at the plight of Israeli hostages and the appalling number of civilian casualties and humanitarian suffering experienced by the people of Gaza.

We are also concerned at the most recent evidence from bodies such as the CST and TellMama of the steep rise in antisemitic and anti-Muslim incidents on university campuses in the UK.

As an inclusive community, we do not tolerate antisemitism and anti-Muslim hatred. We condemn in the strongest possible terms any incidents of racism or those targeting individuals or groups for their religious, political or cultural beliefs. 

We continue to work closely with all students directly impacted by the conflict to provide individual and direct support whenever and wherever needed, including but not limited to our Durham Palestine Educational Trust (DPET) students, our Jewish Society and our Islamic Society.

We also reaffirm our commitment to increasing the practical support on offer to higher education in Gaza. We do so in dialogue with DPET and other bodies concerned with protecting and promoting higher education in conflict settings.

How we're supporting our students and staff

Some of our staff and students, and our wider community, are personally affected by these very distressing events. We are doing all we can to support them, and continue to offer our compassion, care and practical support. 

We are communicating with staff and students to outline the support and assistance available to them if they are affected by these events. 

This includes contacting directly students and staff from the region, and our student societies, working with and through our colleges, Durham Students’ Union, our Chaplaincy Service and line managers.

We are actively keeping the situation under review so we can take appropriate actions. A sub-group of University Executive Committee meets regularly, chaired by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Global).

Working with our Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) we continue to reach out to our student, staff and wider community to hear any concerns we may need to consider and address.

We are also consulting closely with colleagues in the Higher Education sector, including Universities UK. 

What support is available to students and staff?

As an international university with a deep commitment to social responsibility and democratic values, we are experienced in supporting people affected by humanitarian crises and conflict across the globe. 

Support available to students is wide-ranging. It may include academic, wellbeing or financial support from professionally trained staff.

Students have specifically asked us whether the impact of the conflict can be cited as a serious adverse circumstance in relation to their academic progress. We have confirmed this is the case. This is addressed in communications and Student FAQs.

Our students may contact their , the Counselling and Mental Health Service and the multi-faith Chaplaincy Service.  Support is also available from .

Our staff may seek support from their line manager and department. They also have access to our , which is available 24 hours every day, and our Chaplaincy Service.

Further details of the support and assistance available for our students and staff is provided in our Staff FAQs and Student FAQs. Students may also see our Student Support hub: .

Prejudice or discrimination have no place here

We do not accept any form of prejudice or discrimination. This includes antisemitism and anti-Muslim hatred. We condemn in the strongest possible terms any incidents of racism or those targeting individuals or groups for their religious, political or cultural beliefs.

We would strongly urge any staff or students affected by any such incidents to report them to us via our , or, where appropriate, the Police, so that they can be investigated.  

Please also see the Universities UK statement responding to the escalating conflict:

We uphold freedom of speech within the law

We consistently and robustly uphold freedom of speech within the law and academic freedom. We are working to build a respectful and inclusive environment where people feel comfortable to be themselves and flourish no matter what their race, background, gender or sexual orientation.

We encourage respectful behaviours from everyone in our community.

We have wide ranging and world-leading academic expertise in areas such as Middle Eastern Studies and Jewish Studies, as well as international law, and peace and security studies. We actively encourage our academic staff to play a role in promoting expert understanding of all issues related to this and other global conflicts.

We are resolutely focused on supporting all our students, staff, and wider community. We will continue to do so, striving for community cohesion and condemning antisemitism and anti-Muslim hatred.

This page will be updated regularly. Last updated: 26 February 2024 

The University adopts the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition on antisemitism in line with the UK government and recommendations from the United Nations.鈥 

The University also adopts the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims’ definition of Islamophobia in line with UK governmental bodies.

Seek help, support and advice

Use the resources below to find help, support and advice.

Find out more about our support for students and staff

Students and staff can access a variety of resources for support and advice.
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Contact our International Office

We are an inclusive community and people will be affected by the conflict and developments in many different ways.
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