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UNESCO urges the international community to assist Iraq to restore its cultural heritage in the wake of the war

UNESCO urges the international community to assist Iraq to restore its cultural heritage in the wake of the war

Liberated areas in Iraq recently held a conference aimed at reviving the cultural heritage of the country despite the destruction of various historical and cultural landmarks of the country. The International Coordination Conference which was held at the UNESCO headquarters lasted for two days. It laid the foundation for an emergency, long term plan to revive the country’s historical and cultural heritage. The country is rich in a variety of archeological sites, historic cities, religious sites and museums among other notable points of interest.
The officials from the Iraqi government who had met with 80 heritage experts from around the globe agreed on appointing a steering committee comprising Iraqi officials and UNESCO experts. Coordination of national and international activities aimed rehabilitating the cultural heritage of Iraq is among the major roles that the joint committee will be required to play.
UNESCO director general, Irina Bokova said that the damage that has been done to the cultural and historical heritage of the country is far worse than had been initially feared. She described the last meeting of the two day conference as the beginning of a long journey aimed at rehabilitating the already damaged cultural and historical heritage of the country.
“This is definitely a turning point for the people of Iraq and the manner in which the global village understands the role that is played by heritage in conflicts which affect societies. She was saying this barely three months after the organization sent emergency missions to Nimrud and Nineveh along with a damage assessment mission which was sent a bit later to Ashur’s World Heritage Site. “UNESCO is already mobilizing resources to support the Iraqi societies and the government in their quest to protect the high risk heritage sites and objects of keen interest across the country by fencing off and guarding sites among other measures,” said Ms Bokova.
Qais Rasheed, the Vice Minister of Culture for Antiquities and Tourism Affairs of Iraq said that the extremists have done a great deal of damage to a number of archeological sites of global and national significance with 70 % and 80 % of sites in Nineveh and Nimrud reported to have been destroyed.
According to the minister, the extremists dug tunnels in Mosul and several other notable heritage sites across the country in a bid to lay hands on antiquities which they can sell on the internet and the black market. Also present at the meeting was Iraq’s education minister who stressed the need to put an end to the trade in antiquities. “We must halt the trade in antiquities on the black market in line with the UN Security Council Resolution 2199 [which has banned all cultural trade involving antiquities from Syria and Iraq] and end Daesh’s money flow.”
Others like Fryad Rawandouzi, who is the minister of Culture added, “As we reclaim the country from the extrimists, we need help from UNESCO and other well-wishers to rebuild museums, historical sites, cities and return stolen objects.”
http://en.unesco.org/news/unesco-calls-international-community-help-revive-iraq-s-cultural-heritage-wake-massive

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