Warning: Looting of the Malawi National Museum in the Upper Egypt city of Minya

Egypt, August 2013

****Update on 31 October 2014: thanks to the efforts of the Egyptian authorities and the cooperation of the international community, the Egyptian police have successfully recovered nearly 950 out of 1089 objects recorded in the inventory of the Malawi National Museum. Article by the Egyptian State Information Service****

The turmoil in Egypt is having a serious impact on the country’s famous and ancient cultural heritage. At the beginning of August, thieves broke into the Mallawi Museum in the Upper Egypt city of Minya, burning and destroying 48 artifacts and stealing 1041 objects, including coins, jewels and statues dating from the beginning of the Egyptian history to the Islamic period.

On 14 August, the Egyptian Ministry of State for Antiquities informed UNESCO of the looting. The UNESCO Director-General firmly condemned “this irreversible damage to the history and identity of the Egyptian people” a few days later, on 19 August.

Furthermore, the Director-General sent a mission of UNESCO experts to Egypt, from 11 to 16 September, which confirmed the looting and devastation suffered by the Mallawi National Museum.

UNESCO is continuing to work closely with the Egyptian authorities as well as with its partners (INTERPOL, WCO, ICOMOS, ICOM, etc.) to fight, by all possible means, the illicit trafficking of these stolen cultural objects. This included providing support, through the UNESCO Office in Cairo, to the museum staff and the Ministry of State for Antiquities, to rapidly refine the list of looted objects, and make the updated list available in English.

Inventory from the Mallawi National Museum (Egypt):

This enabled UNESCO and its partners, including INTERPOL, to give visibility to the list of stolen objects, and made it easier to monitor the circulation of the looted objects in order to recover as many as possible.

At the international level, UNESCO urged the international community to ensure maximum vigilance on anticipated attempts to illegally export the most valuable pieces that would subsequently appear on the black market. Through this alert, UNESCO reminded that the objects originating from the museum are internationally identified and recorded and that as such, selling and purchasing them inside and outside of Egypt is illegal.

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