PARIS, FEBRUARY 23 – Over 80 Iraqi and international experts from all over the world, including General Fabrizio Parrulli of the Italian Carabinieri, are attending a meeting at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris. Goals of the conference are to examine the condition of cultural heritage in the liberated areas of Iraq, determine priorities for its preservation, identify initiatives to protect archaeological sites, urban heritage, religious monuments and places, museum collections and historical manuscripts, and prevent looting and illicit trafficking.
The meeting is putting the spotlight on sites such as Nimrud and the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Ashur (Qal’at Sherqat) and Hatra. While many areas of Iraq have been liberated, accessibility is still a major concern that impedes immediate intervention. As military operations progress to regain the city of Mosul, there are major concerns about the humanitarian impact, while at the same time, cultural heritage that is already at risk could become further threatened. Other major concerns include the condition of museums and their collections, and preventing illicit trafficking of objects. Sessions are focusing on the current condition of historical buildings and religious heritage, and their conservation needs.
The meeting will conclude with the adoption of a prioritized action plan of emergency and mid-term safeguarding projects which will be shared with UNESCO Member States in an information session destined to garner support for their execution. The conference is co-organized by UNESCO and the Ministry for Culture of Iraq, with financial support by the Government of Japan in the framework of the project for “Preventive Conservation of Iraq’s Museum Collections and Cultural Heritage at Imminent Risk”, carried out by the UNESCO Iraq Office.
The meeting will put together the best experts in the field, many of whom are Italians. Besides the Carabinieri specialized in the protection of cultural heritage who have worked for years in Iraq, the list of participants include the Director General of ICCROm, Stefano De Caro, Carlo Lippolis from the Centro di Ricerche Archeologiche e Scavi in Turin, Alessandra Peruzzetto from the WMF and a specialist of Hatra and Alessandro Bianchi, the damage assessment specialist in Mosul from the Ministero Beni Culturali (MIBACT). In attendance also experts from The Louvre, the Smithsonian Institution, the British Museum, ICOM, ICOMOS, INTERPOL, UNIDROIT and UNOSAT. (@alebal)