UNESCO’s New Representative to Afghanistan Visits the World Heritage Site of Bamiyan
Mr. Paolo Fontani, UNESCO’s new Representative to Afghanistan, paid a visit to Bamiyan province from 9 to 10 October 2012 to review the progress of UNESCO projects in the Bamiyan Valley (one of Afghanistan’s two World Heritage Sites). Attracting worldwide attention upon their destruction in March 2001, the Bamiyan Buddha statues were included in the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2003 and became one of UNESCO’s flagship conservation projects in the country. After completion of a three-phased project funded by the Japanese Funds-in-Trust to conserve and protect the remains of the Buddha statues and niches (amongst other activities), a fourth phase has begun that focuses on the removal of the site from the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Accompanied by Mr. Brendan Cassar, Chief of UNESCO’s Culture Unit, Mr. Fontani’s mission to Bamiyan was part of a broader UN mission to Bamiyan, which included Mr. Michael Keating, Deputy Special Representative of Secretary General (DSRSG) to Afghanistan and Representatives of UNEP and NEPA (National Environmental Programme of Afghanistan). During the mission, discussions were held on possible synergies with environmental projects and UNESCO’s programmes to safeguard historical sites and monuments in Bamiyan province.
The UN delegation also met with Ms. Habiba Sarabi, Governor of Bamiyan province. Both Mr. Fontani and Governor Sarabi reiterated their firm commitment to continue their efforts to boost cultural diversity and mobilize their resources to protect the World Heritage Site of Bamiyan and other historical and natural sites in the region.
Part of the mission also included visiting Band-e-Amir, Afghanistan’s first national park, comprised of stunning geological formations, rare animal species and six turquoise coloured lakes. It is located 75 kilometers northwest of Bamiyan city. Band-e-Amir is included in Afghanistan’s Tentative List of World Heritage (natural) which means that the authorities have identified the potential Outstanding Universal Value of the site and may wish to pursue a World Heritage nomination in the future. The region also has historical and contemporary cultural value which may contribute to its possible World Heritage nomination in the future.
Mr. Fontani expressed UNESCO’s further support to the Afghan government in assisting them in process of the preparation of a World Heritage nomination dossier for the Band-e-Amir site.
For more information regarding UNESCO activities in preserving cultural sites in Afghanistan, please contact Brendan Cassar at email@example.com
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