UNESCO to send new mission to Iraq to check cultural heritage after looting

27 June 2003 – Following up on reports of looting in Iraqi museums and archaeological sites, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced today that it was sending a second expert team to Baghdad tomorrow to take stock of the situation regarding the country's heritage.

A first mission visited Baghdad from 15 to 20 May after reports of massive looting at Baghdad's museum and focused on questions related to the theft of cultural objects, the preparation of an inventory for the museum and the fine-tuning of an action plan aimed at restoring the principal cultural institutions of the city. It found that the looting had been less extensive than first thought.

The new mission, scheduled to last a week, has been organized in close cooperation with the United States Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) and has received the personal support of Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative for Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello.

Led by Mounir Bouchenaki, Assistant Director-General of UNESCO for Culture, it will include eight internationally renowned experts from Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the Netherlands. These specialists in museums, archives, libraries, historical monuments and archaeological sites will split into two groups for maximum effectiveness.

The first group will concentrate on assessing the situation of museums, historic buildings, archives and libraries while the second is scheduled to visit archaeological sites to the north and south of Baghdad.

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