UNAMI, UNESCO stand behind Iraqi academia in fight against heritage destruction

Baghdad, 15 March 2015 – “The United Nations family shares the great concern of Iraqi archaeologists and heritage experts for the country’s unique patrimony”, said Gyorgy Busztin, Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (DSRSG), and Axel Plathe, Director of the UNESCO Office for Iraq, at a meeting today with Salah Flaifil A’Ayed, Dean of the Colleges of Art of the University of Bagdad and professors of its Faculty of Archaeology.

Endorsing the firm condemnation by the College of Arts of the criminal acts carried out by the terrorists destroying antiquities testifying to the Mesopotamian culture, Gyorgy Busztin and Axel Plathe agreed with Salah Flaifil A’Ayaed to support the campaign to protect Iraq’s heritage that was launched through an event at the University of Baghdad last week.

“The United Nations are fully mobilized and stand ready to assist the Iraqi authorities in any possible way,” said Georgy Buzstin.

“UNESCO congratulates the University of Baghdad for its campaign. Youth in Iraq and elsewhere, especially students of history and archaeology, must do everything possible to protect Iraq’s heritage, to claim it as their own, and as the heritage of the whole of humanity”, said Axel Plathe.

The visit of the Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Iraq and the Director of the UNESCO Iraq Office to the University of Baghdad came one day after the inauguration of the UNESCO Chair on Development of Interreligious Dialogue Studies in the Islamic World at Kufa University in Najaf.  Both today’s meeting and the inauguration of the UNESCO Chair yesterday highlight the important role that academic research must play in Iraq today to foster the mutual understanding and enrichment of its people, their religions and cultures.