United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
UNESCO Executive Board creates committee for the safeguard of Afghanistan's cultural heritage (this press realease replaces n° 2002-79, issued on october 17)

Paris - UNESCO’s Executive Board, meeting at the Organization’s Paris Headquarters from October 7 to 17 - has approved the creation of an International Coordination Committee for the Safeguarding of Afghanistan’s Cultural Heritage.

The Committee, to be administered by UNESCO, will comprise international and Afghan experts, representatives of the principal donor nations and inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations involved in the restoration of Afghan heritage, which was severely damaged during 23 years of war. The Board’s approval of the establishment of the Committee and its statutes, follows the request from the Afghan authorities for UNESCO to play a coordinating role in all international activities aimed at safeguarding the country’s cultural heritage.

The Committee shall advise the Director-General - who will inform the Afghan authorities, Member States and other partners - on measures to better implement and reinforce international cooperation in the safeguarding of Afghanistan’s cultural heritage.

The Committee will meet on a regular basis. Preparation work has already begun to establish priority tasks on the basis of reports and advice from experts who have take part in UNESCO-organized missions over the past few months. The last of these missions took place September 27 to October 6 when a team of experts visited Bamiyan, where two 15 century-old Buddhas were destroyed in March 2001.

These experts signalled several priority activities for the site, including the consolidation of the upper part of the cliff recess of the small Buddha, the conservation of the remains of the statues, and the protection and conservation of the caves dug into the cliffs of Bamiyan and two neighbouring valleys, Kakrak and Foladi. According to Japanese experts who took part in the most recent UNESCO expedition, only 15 to 20 percent of the fifth and sixth century Buddhist paintings adorning these caves survived the war and the Taliban. These experts recommend that the 25 caves containing the paintings be closed to the public. Some of these activities will be financed by a US$700,000 Japanese Funds-in-Trust to UNESCO.

Contact: Sophie Boukhari
Bureau of Public Information, Editorial Section
Tel: (+33) (0)1 45 68 17 03
E-mail: s.boukhari@unesco.org

Source Press Release No.2002-79 - CORR N°1
Publication Date 24 Oct 2002
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