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UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova (UN)
UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova (UN)

UNESCO urges for protecting Syria’s Cultural Heritage

(Dp-news - UN)

DAMASCUS- The United Nations agency tasked with safeguarding the world’s cultural heritage reiterated its appeal for all parties in the Syrian conflict to protect the Middle Eastern country’s cultural heritage.

UNESCO statement on Thursday said “In light of escalated violence in the vicinity of several historic urban areas in Syria, the Director-General reiterates her appeal of 30 March 2012, to all parties involved in the conflict to protect all Syrian cultural heritage.”

The Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova, “urges all parties to respect and protect Syria’s great cultural legacy, which constitutes a source of identity and fulfillment for its people, and to abide by their international obligations in the area of culture,” according to a UNESCO news release.





Of particular concern to UNESCO are the reports of heaving fighting in Aleppo, which contains the historic Citadel of Aleppo, one of 962 properties listed on the World Heritage List for its outstanding universal cultural value.



Strategically positioned on historic trade routes linking East and West, the ancient city has conserved an astounding monumental heritage reflecting the diverse cultures of the peoples that have settled in the region over millennia, including the Hittites, Assyrians, Greeks, Romans, Umayyads, Ayyubids, Mongols, Mamelukes and Ottomans.



“UNESCO is particularly alarmed over reports of heavy fighting in Aleppo, which ancient city is a World Heritage site. Strategically positioned on historic trade routes linking East and West, this ancient city has conserved an astounding monumental heritage reflecting the diverse cultures of the peoples that have settled here over millennia including the Hittites, Assyrians, Greeks, Romans, Umayyads, Ayyubids, Mongols, Mamelukes and Ottomans. The ancient city of Aleppo has been inscribed on the World Heritage List since 1986.” the statement said.



“Owing to the volatile security situation, it has not been possible to assess the extent of the damage to the ancient city of Aleppo and several other World Heritage sites, including the Crac des Chevaliers, Palmyra, the Ancient Villages in Northern Syria and Damascus,” UNESCO said.





The cultural agency is also concerned about the risks of looting and pillaging of cultural property, and has alerted the World Customs Organization and INTERPOL – as well as Syria’s neighbouring countries – to the potential threats of illicit trafficking in Syrian cultural objects.



In addition, Ms. Bokova has contacted Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the chair of the Security Council so that they can alert the Joint Special Envoy for the UN and the League of Arab States for the Syrian Crisis, Kofi Annan, to the importance of ensuring that the provisions of the international conventions regarding protection of cultural property are respected.



“In the current context of civil strife, UNESCO is also particularly concerned about the risks of looting and pillaging of cultural property. As part of its efforts to mobilize the international community for the protection of Syria’s cultural heritage, UNESCO has alerted the World Customs Organization, INTERPOL, as well as Syria’s neighbouring countries to the potential threats of illicit trafficking in Syrian cultural objects. The Director-General also contacted the United Nations Secretary General and the Chairperson of the Security Council to bring the attention of Kofi Annan, the Special Envoy for the United Nations and the League of Arab States, to the importance of ensuring that the provisions of the international conventions regarding protection of cultural property are respected, especially the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and the 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. UNESCO is in close contact with the UN Resident Coordinator in Damascus concerning the situation.”



More than 10,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed and tens of thousands displaced since the uprising against Syria`s President Bashar al-Assad began some 17 months ago.

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