Int’l city leaders asks UN to protect historic cities in hot spots
Sheeran lion statue in the city of Raqqa - Photo courtesy of alquds.co.uk
By RANY MOSTAFA

CAIRO: Governors of historic cities suffering damage during armed conflicts have called on the U.N. to take immediate protective measures to safeguard damaged historic sites, including UNESCO World Heritage sites located within their territory, DPA reported Wednesday.

During the 14th General Assembly meeting of the Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC) held in China Wednesday, governors and representatives of 86 cities of historical landmarks, some of which are experiencing armed conflicts, voiced their concern over a possible complete devastation of the cultural properties in their cities.

“The preservation of the cultural heritage is of a great importance for all peoples of the world, thus it is important that this heritage should receive the protection of the international community,” OWHC’s members said in a statement Wednesday.

Present at the conference was Luxor Governor Tarek Saad el-Din, who called on the U.N. Security Council to create “deterrent measures” that prevent the destruction of significant archaeological sites.

“Amid the increasing development in warfare techniques, I call on the Security Council to create a buffer zone around archaeological sites in territories of armed conflicts and to impose severe penalties on those who are involved in the devastation and pillaging of historic sites,” Saad el-Din said.

In the past few months, the Islamic State (IS) posted online pictures of churches, shrines and mosques across Iraq being bulldozed, blown up or destroyed.

IS’s deliberate destruction of Al-Askari Shrine, Samarra, Sheikh Jawad Mosque, the Tomb of Ibn Athir, the Tomb of Jonah in Mosul and the 1,200-year-old Church of the Immaculate have drawn widespread media attention.

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