UNESCO Director-General deplores heavy damages at the National Museum of Aleppo
13 July 2016 – The Director-General of UNESCO, Ms. Irina Bokova, has called once again to stop the destruction at the Ancient City of Aleppo, and deplored the recent shelling at the National Museum, which is located just outside of the boundaries of the Ancient City of Aleppo, a World Heritage property.
According to reports confirmed by the Syrian Directorate General for Antiquities and Museums (DGAM), the National Museum of Aleppo was hit by mortar shells on 11 July 2016, causing extensive damage to the roof and structure of the building. “The Old City of Aleppo has suffered extensive damage over the last 4 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 the Director-General.
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.
UNESCO reiterates its calls on all parties to refrain from targeting as well as from using cultural property for military purposes, in respect of international humanitarian law and the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. UNESCO condemns all destruction of heritage since the outbreak of the conflict, no matter who the instigator. UNESCO works with the DGAM to safeguard Syria’s rich cultural heritage, through training of professionals, documentation and awareness-raising initiatives, notably funded by the European Union. UNESCO is intensifying cooperation with NGOs, experts and institutions around the world and all across Syria, to protect Syrian Heritage, building on the best of scientific expertise from all sides, in the spirit of the expert meeting held in Berlin on 2-4 June, in cooperation with Germany.
Aleppo has been on the List of World Heritage in Danger since 2013. This status was confirmed by the 40th session of the World Heritage Committee, which is currently taking place in Istanbul.
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