Friday, July 15, 2016

UNESCO deplores damage to Aleppo National Museum; warns five Heritage Sites in Libya are in danger

The head of the United Nations cultural agency today deplored the recent shelling at the National Museum of Aleppo, located on the edge of the war-torn ancient city in northern Syria, calling once again for the destruction of cultural property to stop.

“The Old City of Aleppo has suffered extensive damage over the last four years. The destruction of the museum is a new blow to the heritage and history of all Syrians. I once again call on all parties to stop the violence and keep cultural heritage out of the conflict,” said Irina Bokova, the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

  • According to reports confirmed by the Syrian Directorate General for Antiquities and Museums, the National Museum was hit by mortar shells on 11 July, causing extensive damage to the roof and structure of the building.

Aleppo – Syria’s largest city – has been devastated by the ongoing conflict in the country, now in its sixth year and claiming the lives of more than a quarter of a million people. UNESCO, which, as the UN body responsible for identifying significant cultural landmarks, had classified the Ancient City of Aleppo among six World Heritage sites in Syria, launched a three-year action plan in August 2013 aimed at preventing further losses and repairing damage where and when possible, but all six of those sites are now either destroyed or severely damaged.

Ms. Bokova noted that the National Museum is the most important museum in Aleppo, with thousands of objects reflecting all periods of Syrian history, including an important Islamic section.

Most of the collections had been already evacuated by the Syrian Directorate General for Antiquities and Museums and taken to safe locations, but strong concerns remain for the items that could not be transported, she said.

Reiterating its calls on all parties to refrain from targeting as well as from using cultural property for military purposes, Ms. Bokova emphasized that UNESCO condemns all destruction of heritage since the outbreak of the conflict, no matter who the instigator. .......

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