Dear Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng,
Greetings from KU Leuven.
It is with tremendous sadness and sense of loss that we took note of the horrific events that unfolded in Cape Town and on UCT Rondebosch Campus in the last few days. The scenes of destruction of the campus facilities and especially of the historic library have touched all of us at KU Leuven deeply. Even though we are relieved that thanks to resolute action taken by UCT management and the emergency services, there are no fatalities to be mourned, the loss of the historic library and other important cultural heritage is a tragedy we can unfortunately relate to all too well at KU Leuven. In the course of the 20th century, during the course of two World Wars we experienced the destruction of our own historic library and substantial cultural heritage several times. Only because of the tremendous solidarity shown to KU Leuven by partner universities and knowledge institutions (in the USA and across the globe), vigorously supported by local, national and international (especially US) governments we were able to overcome these tragedies and re-emerge stronger.
Inspired by and still grateful for this particular experience and because of our close ties to UCT, KU Leuven would like to offer its assistance in bringing together like-minded institutions in support of the recovery effort that will undoubtably unfold in the upcoming months. We have already taken the initiative to put a possible effort in this regard on the agenda of the main international networks that KU Leuven chairs or in which it plays an important role (League of European Research Universities, UNA Europa, Universitas 21, Coimbra Group).
In order to make these discussions as relevant and purposeful as possible, we invite you to provide us, at your convenience, with information concerning the most pressing needs. Our International and other support offices would be happy to work with your dedicated offices to establish a communication line to put the focus where it needs to be, as determined by UCT management.
Please be assured that KU Leuven stands with you in solidarity in these difficult times. Together with others, we will do our utmost to work with you to overcome this tragedy, and like we did in the last century, emerge stronger and invigorated.
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