UNESCO Raises $75.5 Million to Defend Cultural Heritage in War Zones

Yesterday, at a conference held at the Louvre Museum in Paris hosted by Francois Hollande, the French president announced that a total of $75.5 million (€70 million) has been pledged, by seven countries and an American philanthropist, for a UNESCO-backed fund to protect cultural heritage sites all over the world from war and terrorism.

The Geneva-based International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Zones (ALIPH), which oversee the UNESCO initiative, is hoping to raise a total of $100 million by 2019.

France pledged $30 million to the fund, Saudi Arabia is giving $20 million, and UAE, which is a co-host has promised $15 million. Other supporting countries include Kuwait ($5 million), Luxembourg ($3 million), and Morocco ($1.5 million). Switzerland has promised logistical support valued at $8 million.

Notably absent is the United States. American philanthropist Tom Kaplan promised $1 million.

“At Bamiyan, Mosul, Palmyra, Timbuktu, and elsewhere, fanatics have engaged in trafficking, looting, and the destruction of cultural heritage, adding to the persecution of populations,” said Hollande according to a report by Agence France Press.

More funds and in-kind support is expected from countries including Britain, China, Germany, Italy, Mexico, and South Korea. Forty countries pledged their support at a conference in Abu Dhabi.

Further, a network of safe havens was created for endangered artworks, allowing at-risk property to be stored abroad if needed, though this measure is regarded as a last resort.

In his speech yesterday, Hollande emphasized that steps would be taken to ensure that sovereignty principles are respected.

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