Shocked by 'catastrophic' looting, Annan calls on coalition to protect Iraq's heritage

15 April 2003

Shocked by the "catastrophic losses" caused by the looting of Iraq's museums, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today urged the coalition to stop further pillaging, the population to return the loot, and neighbouring countries and international bodies to prevent trafficking in the stolen objects.

He noted that "Iraq's cultural treasures bear witness to an invaluable legacy for all humanity, and their loss is a wound inflicted on all humankind," a statement issued by a UN spokesman said.

"The Secretary-General deplores the catastrophic losses to Iraq's cultural heritage that have occurred in recent days and weeks," the statement declared. "He urges the Iraqi people to do what they can to restore that invaluable heritage by returning any looted items, and calls on the coalition authorities to act immediately to prevent further losses by protecting Iraq's archaeological and religious sites, museums and other cultural institutions."

Referring to appeals already made by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), he joined in "calling on the authorities of countries bordering Iraq, international police, customs organizations and leading actors in the art market to join forces with UNESCO in the work to prevent trade in stolen Iraqi objects."


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