The continuing destruction of cultural property in the current armed conflicts in Mali, Syria and other countries is a matter of grave concern for cultural heritage experts and the general public that has attracted significant media attention.
Both UNESCO and the Blue Shield constantly promote the importance of safeguarding and respecting cultural property in the event of armed conflict.
One key aspect of such safeguarding is training courses targeted mainly at individuals in the armed forces, law enforcement and civil organisations who have specific responsibilities regarding cultural property protection.Such courses have been developed with various partners all over the world including regional UNESCO offices, universities, museums, NGOs and armed forces.
ANCBS Board member recently received a message from one of our ICOMOS colleagues in the Philippines:
"Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) also caused major damage to at least on National Cultural Treasure: Guiuan Church. We are still receiving information about the damage from the typhoon. But our country's resources are currently focused on the humanitarian crisis that needs to be addressed.Thank you very much for your concern and we hope to see you when restoration begins"
Please read more on file.
Those working in the cultural heritage sector are asked to look out for items recently reported looted from Egypt's Malawe (Malawi) Museum,
also known as Malawi Monuments Museum, Malawi Antiquities (Archaeological) Museum and Museum of Malawi.
The museum housed collections from sites such as Tuna al-Gebel and Hermopolis.
On 15th August over 1000 items were taken from the Museum, in Al-Minya, in Upper Egypt, and other items were broken and damaged.
The Ministry of Antiquities issued a statement, reported by Jill Reilly for the Daily Mail On-Line and others, in which the Minister of State of Antiquities
Mohamed Ibrahimis reported to have said: 'It is a great loss and I am really saddened by what has happened to such a museum'.
Egypt Independent reported (18.8.2013) that the minister has "stressed that no archaeological site had been exposed to attacks, except for the Museum of Malawi which was attacked on Wednesday when unknown assailants robbed, burnt and smashed its contents".
Photos missing items
The ANCBS is extremely concerned regarding the damage inflicted on the cultural heritage in Syria as the result of the current fighting.
The UK National Committee of the Blue Shield has passed information to us produced by Heritage for Peace, an NGO based in Spain.
This comprises of:
- Press release from the UKBS and Heritage for Peace;
- Situation Report of the situation in Aleppo;
- detailed 'no-strike list' comprising 20 sites in Aleppo drawn up by Heritage for Peace in consultation with Syrian colleagues.
The ANCBS urges all those involved in the fighting in Syria to take every effort to avoid damage to the cultural heritage and to abide by the 1954 Hague Convention and its two Protocols of 1954 and 1999.
The ANCBS strongly supports the Director General of UNESCO in her statement of 2nd June 2013 when she "strongly urged all the parties to the conflict to take the necessary measures to ensure the safeguarding of mausoleums, mosques, archaeological sites, cultural objects, living traditions and other components of Syria's ancient heritage".
May peace come to Syria very quickly.