Late Thursday night (early Friday evening in New Zealand) police apprehended four suspects in a shooting at a mosque in downtown Christchurch (about a 45-minute walk from University of Canterbury campus). Additional shots were reported at another mosque east of downtown Christchurch, and improvised explosive devices were found in nearby automobiles. Reports indicate that approximately 50 people have died and more than 20 have been injured at the Masjid Al Noor mosque and the Islamic Center in Linwood. Police ordered a lockdown of schools and federal buildings and urged residents to stay indoors. The University of Canterbury also ordered a lockdown until the situation had been contained. At this time, the lockdown has been lifted. All IFSA students on the University of Canterbury program are safe and have been accounted for by IFSA’s on-site staff and Resident Director.
All students studying abroad with IFSA in New Zealand received immediate notification of the incident with emergency instructions. At this time, IFSA does not have any student travelers in Christchurch this weekend. Students were advised to reach out to IFSA staff if they had any questions or concerns, and our local Student Services Coordinators will be gathering the students together to talk through this incident in the days to come. Should any student wish to seek professional support, there are mental health services available in all IFSA program locations, and the cost of counseling is covered under our program insurance plan.
In the event of an emergency, the IFSA Health and Safety team monitors international news and governmental reports in order to assess worldwide security conditions and respond quickly in the event of an emergency. On-site resident staff guide students through safety practices at the program orientation and frequently check in, providing any information and support needed. At the beginning of each program, students are given an emergency phone number to contact our resident staff and our emergency assistance provider 24/7.
New Zealand Herald: Christchurch Mosque Shootings: What You Need to Know
BBC News: Christchurch Shootings: 49 Dead in New Zealand Mosque Attacks