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UNESCO chief calls for protection of Syrian cultural heritage during crisis

(Xinhua)

08:25, March 31, 2012

UNITED NATIONS, March 30 (Xinhua) -- Irina Bokova, director- general of the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has called for efforts to protect Syria's cultural heritage during the current crisis in the country, UN spokesman Eduardo del Buey told reporters here Friday.

"She has also called for the mobilization of all UNESCO's partners to ensure the safeguarding of this heritage," del Buey told a daily noon briefing.

According to del Buey, this is not the first time that UNESCO has urged protection of Syrian cultural heritage sites and artifacts this year. He said that UNESCO alerted Syrian authorities, through their representative in the organization, of their responsibility to defend heritage earlier in 2012.

"Syria's history extends back over thousands of years," said del Buey. "A succession of cultures has left an outstanding wealth of archaeological sites, historic cities, cultural landscapes, monuments and works of art that bear witness to the evolution of human ingenuity."

He added that Bokova has reached out to groups around the world to ensure that Syrian cultural artifacts do not appear on the market illegally.

"In the framework of the of the 1970 Convention, the director- general has already contacted the World Customs Organization, INTERPOL, and the specialized heritage police of France and Italy to alert them to objects from Syria that could appear on the international antiquities market," he said.

UNESCO, based in Paris, endeavors to contribute to peace and development through education, science, culture, and communication.

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