A heritage under siege: Egypt's SOS to rescue Syria's old cities
Under the auspices of Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (ISESCO), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) bureau in Egypt and Egypt’s Ministry of State for Antiquities, the Faculty of Archaeology at Cairo University is hosting an emergency meeting to discuss all possible measures to protect Syrian archaeological heritage presently subject to destruction amid the ongoing civil war in the country.
According to Mohamed Ibrahim, minister of state for antiquities, the meeting will discuss all possible efforts that could be exerted to stand against the destruction of Syria’s archaeological sites that date back more than 6000 years. Dean of the Faculty of Archaeology Mohamed Hamza pointed out that archaeologists and Arab ambassadors who will attended the meeting will issue a statement condemning the destruction of Syrian archaeological sites, putting all the responsibility on the shoulders of the Syrian state for failing to protect such sites across Syria.
The statement will also seek to mobilise international and Arab public opinion to take a quick action to stop all destruction of Syria’s cultural and urban heritage. “Syrian cultural heritage is in great danger and could vanish,” said Hamza. The meeting will be held in the presence Arab League Secretary General Nabil El-Araby, Minister of Education Mustafa Mosaad, Cairo University President Hossam Kamel, the head of the World Organisation for African and Asian Writers, and the ambassadors of Syria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar.
Many of Syria’s historic treasures have fallen victim to the 18-month-long conflict that has reduced parts of some cities to ruins. The latest site destroyed on Friday was 700 to 1000 shops of the Old Souk (market) in Aleppo, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. UNESCO believes that five of Syria’s six World Heritage Sites, which include the ancient desert city of Palmyra, the Crac des Chevaliers crusader fortress and parts of old Damascus, have been affected by the ongoing armed conflict. The meeting (today) will be held at Cairo University's Conference Centre.
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