Declaration by the Director-General of UNESCOThe Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, today issued the following declaration on the crisis in the Middle East.
“In my capacity as Director-General of an organization dedicated to the construction of the defenses of peace in the minds of women and men through education, science, culture and communication, and in view of the spiraling conflict in the Middle East, I wish to express my dismay at the growing loss of life, suffering, and destruction on each side, and express my fear that the grief caused by present events will jeopardize the future.
“We can only be alarmed by the impending humanitarian disaster in Lebanon that will compound the environmental disaster already unfolding before us. But an even greater threat looms: what future for a country where so many people have been displaced, lived through fire, turmoil and death omnipresent? What future for a country where so many children have seen their schools destroyed, a country whose memory is ravaged along with its rich heritage of prestigious sites that are the heritage of humanity as a whole? And what prospects can there be for the construction of a knowledge society in a country sapped by the loss of its vital energy and talent?
“Moreover, what does the future hold for the youth of the Middle East - whatever their nationality, affiliation or religion - when their minds risk being so deeply troubled that they will never be able to learn to talk to one another or live side by side?
“It is for these reasons that I add my voice to the appeal made by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, and support all of his proposals: the more time that passes without a cessation of hostilities, the harder it will be to resume dialogue and engage in the process of reconciliation. It goes without saying that UNESCO will participate fully in the reconstruction operations that will be carried out by the United Nations System once this becomes possible.”