Director-general calls on international community to help save European heritage damaged by floodsParis - UNESCO Director-General Ko´chiro Matsuura today called on the international community to mobilize in the rehabilitation of cultural heritage damaged by floods in several European countries.
Mr Matsuura declared: "I am appalled by the tragedy currently affecting much of Europe, particularly by the heavy loss of human lives and great human suffering incurred. Damages to infrastructure are also a cause of concern, particularly in the region's weaker economies. In keeping with UNESCO's mandate to preserve cultural heritage, I pledge that we will do all within our power to help preserve the region's damaged treasures, which are vital to the memory of humanity and to the identity of the numerous communities rooted in the region.
UNESCO and its World Heritage Centre will lend all the technical and financial assistance within its means to help restore cultural heritage damaged by the floods but our financial means are limited. We hope that the international community will extend its assistance to the countries affected for the rehabilitation of their heritage and that it will work in consultation with UNESCO where sites inscribed on the World Heritage List* are concerned."
"We are particularly concerned about the damage caused to the historic centre of Prague and its ancient Jewish quarter. This quarter bears a unique testimony to a rich past whose traces have been tragically obliterated from much of the region. It is therefore particularly important that its memory be preserved.
We are also deeply concerned about the preservation of the historic centre of the city of Cesky Krumlov, another Czech site on UNESCO's World Heritage List," he added. "We are also worried about the historic city centres of Vienna and Salzburg, which are also the List, as are the unique Bauhaus buildings of the German city of Dessau, which, along with their collections, bear testimony to the birth of one of the most important movements in modern art and architecture."
"While it is too early to take stock of the extent of the damage," the Director-General said, "it is clear that much effort will be required to safeguard and repair damage caused to important heritage, including the German city of Dresden with its countless Baroque treasures."
"I hope that these tragic events will provide an opportunity to increase international solidarity and conservation partnerships, that are more needed than ever," Mr Matsuura declared.
The Director-General has written to Vaclav Havel, the President of the Czech Republic, supporting his appeal for international assistance to help his country and has offered UNESCO's assistance in the extensive conservation efforts that will be required when the waters subside.