World donors pledged more than $75 million Monday to an historic UNESCO-backed alliance to protect cultural heritage sites threatened by war and the wave of ideological-driven destruction carried out by Daesh terrorists.
In coordination with UNESCO, the International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas (ALIPH) aims to prevent heritage site destruction, fight trafficking of stolen artifacts and pay for restoration. But it also seeks to create a global network of storage and safeguarding sites.
Six countries and one philanthropist pledged a total of $75.5 million at Monday conference, which was held in an ancient Middle Eastern sculpture-clad wing of the Louvre.
France pledged the most at $30 million, with support forthcoming from Arab countries — including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Morocco.
While Luxembourg pledged $3 million, and private donor Thomas Kaplan promised $1 million. Switzerland pledged a further $8 million in operational and administrative costs to help set up the fund's first headquarters in Geneva. Italy, meanwhile, said it would provide an ALIPH task force that includes military personnel and conservation experts. Germany, China and Mexico said they would help by storing the heritage objects threatened by war in national museums, and lobby countries to do the same.
A number of cultural artifacts and heritage sites have fallen victim to the Daesh terrorist group. In 2015, the ancient Syrian ruins of Palmyra were seized by militants who then destroyed the UNESCO heritage site's famed temples of Bel and Baalshamin. Daesh militants raided Iraq's Mosul museum. The 13th-century B.C. Assyrian city of Nimrud was hit with bombs and bulldozers.
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