UN voices concern over Syria cultural heritage
The United Nations has expressed concern over the widespread looting and damage at historical sites in Syria.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, UNESCO Director Irina Bokova, and UN-Arab League Special Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi published a joint statement on Wednesday, calling for the protection of the country’s cultural heritage caught up in the crisis.
The statement called for an immediate halt to “all destruction of Syrian heritage,” and saving the country’s “rich social mosaic and cultural heritage.”
It also denounced the use of historical sites for military purposes, especially in the northern part of the country where al-Qaeda-linked militants remain holed up in the sites.
“As the people of Syria continue to endure incalculable human suffering and loss, their country’s rich tapestry of cultural heritage is being ripped to shreds,” read the statement, adding, “Archaeological sites are being systematically looted and the illicit trafficking of cultural objects has reached unprecedented levels.”
“We appeal to all countries and professional bodies involved in customs, trade and the art market, as well as individuals and tourists, to be on alert for stolen Syrian artifacts, to verify the origin of cultural property that might be illegally imported, exported and/or offered for sale,” the statement added.
Syria has been gripped by deadly violence since 2011. Some sources say around 130,000 people have been killed and millions displaced due to the violence fueled by Western-backed militants.
According to reports, the Western powers and their regional allies — especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey — are supporting the militants operating inside Syria.