Building peace in the minds of men and women

Heritage Emergency Fund

paneel_8_-_umayyad_mosque_aleppo_1_-_unesco_wondershare.jpg

Umayyad Mosque of Aleppo, Syria, 2011
© UNESCO

The Heritage Emergency Fund, a multi-donor and non-earmarked funding mechanism, was established by UNESCO in 2015, to enable the Organization to respond quickly and effectively to crises resulting from armed conflicts and disasters caused by natural and human-made hazards all over the world. UNESCO works to achieve this objective by strengthening the ability of Member States to prevent, mitigate and recover the loss of cultural heritage and diversity in emergencies and by advocating for the incorporation of the protection of culture into humanitarian action, security strategies and peace-building processes, including by harnessing the potential of culture to strengthen resilience and support recovery.   

Since its establishment at the end of 2015, the Heritage Emergency Fund has addressed numerous global emergencies, including the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, the earthquakes in Ecuador and Myanmar, Hurricane Matthew in Haiti and the floods resulting from El Niño in Peru. The Heritage Emergency Fund finances activities in the area of emergency preparedness and response within the domains of the UNESCO Culture Conventions. This includes immoveable cultural and natural heritage, moveable cultural heritage, cultural repositories, underwater cultural heritage, intangible cultural heritage and the diversity of cultural goods, services and expressions.

We thank our donors:

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OPERATIONS

AFGHANISTAN
Risk assessment mission to the World Heritage property of Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam (2017)

The Minaret of Jam and its surrounding archaeological remains was added to UNESCO’S World Heritage List and Heritage Properties in Danger in 2002 and is located in a remote mountainous area of Afghanistan with limited accessibility, exposed to risks induced by both natural and human-induced hazards. In July 2017, the World Heritage Committee stressed that it is of the utmost importance that a realistic Conservation Action Plan be established and implemented for the property. In this framework, the Heritage Emergency Fund supported an activity aimed at fulfilling the recommendation of the World Heritage Committee, through the funding of a mission to conduct an onsite survey, documentation and risk assessment of the property, in order to inform the preparation of the Conservation Action Plan. The mission took place from 20 to 24 September 2017 in close cooperation with the Afghan authorities. Preparation of a concept design to repair the roof of the Minaret have drawn on a recently completed 3D modelling project that received funds from the HEF. A multi-media exhibition of photos, videos, 3D data and drawings of the site dating back to 1967 – the date of the first known scientific survey of the Minaret – was presented in Kabul in August 2018.

BRAZIL
Emergency mission to guide recovery and restoration of the National Museum of Brazil (2018)

UNESCO organized an expert emergency mission to the National Museum of Brazil from 12 to 24 September 2018, working closely with Brazilian authorities to assess damage and help guide recovery efforts following a fire that devastated the 200-year-old museum. The UNESCO mission benefited from the expertise of the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) and two German experts made generously available by the German government. A detailed Action Plan drafted by the mission team helped guide the arduous task of the restoration and recovery of the site and its artefacts. The plan prioritized emergency interventions, including the structural stabilization and sheltering of the museum building, salvaging artefacts from the debris, developing emergency risk management plans for other museums in Brazil, and reconstituting the collections through loans and donations from other museums worldwide. More than 20 million items were believed to be part of the museum’s original collections, including a 12,000-year-old human skeleton known as “Luzia” and rare recordings of indigenous Brazilian languages that are testimony to the region’s precious intangible cultural heritage. UNESCO’s mission to Brazil was deployed following a pledge of support by the UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay and was made possible thanks to UNESCO’s Heritage Emergency Fund.

IRAQ
Support to the recovery of the cultural heritage of Iraq (2017)

Following the liberation of Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul from ISIL/Da’esh which was officially announced by the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on 10 July 2017, UNESCO scaled up its efforts to protect and conserve cultural heritage affected by conflict. The Heritage Emergency Fund supported the UNESCO Office in Baghdad in assisting the Iraqi authorities in the coordination and design of emergency response and recovery interventions in the Liberated Areas of Northern Iraq. Two field visits to Mosul undertaken jointly with UN-Habitat Iraq on 10 and 23 October 2017, were aimed at understanding the damage inflicted to the historic urban fabric including the key monuments of the city, such as the al-Nouri Mosque and al-Hadba Minaret. A comparative study and the design of a GIS database for the restoration and reconstruction of the Old City of Mosul, as well as participating in a Technical Planning Workshop in Mosul on 16 November 2017 with a view to ensuring stakeholder engagement, were also undertaken. The Heritage and Emergency Fund also contributed to a drone survey for a 3D modelling of the restoration and reconstruction of the Historic Urban Landscape of the Old City of Mosul, which was conducted by the French company ICONEM.

LEBANON
Training to counter antiquities trafficking in the Mashreq (2018)

A program to train specialists working to prevent cultural property theft and the illicit trafficking of antiquities was organised by UNESCO along with the Association for Research into Crimes against Art (ARCA) to encourage greater international cooperation in countering illicit flows of cultural property. Up to 31 trainees from five beneficiary countries in the Mashreq region: Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey participated in the capacity-building exercise funded by UNESCO’s Heritage Emergency Fund. Countries of the Mashreq are in particularly impacted by the proliferation of the illicit trafficking of cultural property, having seen their border transit points exploited by traffickers who attempt to move plundered heritage to lucrative art markets throughout the world. The training session provided technical assistance with a focus on identifying existing gaps in knowledge, practice, and legislative and judicial systems. It also stressed the importance of improving international, cross-border and regional cooperation among heritage personnel, customs, law enforcement, inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations. Best practices, as well as creative alternatives in cultural property disputes and restitution, were also discussed. The training was held in Beirut, Lebanon from 16 to 20 April 2018.

LIBYA
Training of Libyan officers in the conservation of mummies (2017)

Following the discovery of numerous mummies in areas at high risk of armed conflict in Libya, the Libyan Department of Antiquities (DoA) expressed its concern regarding their preservation and underlined the urgent need for a capacity-building programme on the handling of human remains. With the help of the Heritage Emergency Fund, a workshop was organized by the UNESCO office in Cairo on the ‘Treatment and Handling of Mummies and Human Remains’, held at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization and the Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo from 29 October to 2 November 2017. Participants included nationally and internationally renowned experts in mummy conservation, DNA studies and evolutionary medicine, who shared their knowledge with more than 30 archaeologists, conservators and heritage managers from various Egyptian and Libyan museums and archaeological sites.

Zimbabwe
Training of African peacekeepers on cultural property protection in armed conflict (2017)

A training workshop on the peacekeeping operational aspects of protecting cultural property in armed conflict was organized by the UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa (ROSA) and the Regional Peacekeeping Training Centre (RPTC) and held in Harare, Zimbabwe from 26 to 28 September 2017. Eight Member States of the Southern African Development Community attended the workshop (Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe).The training emphasised the contributions of cultural heritage protection to mission success and informed participants of the related international legal obligations that apply to, and bind, all military forces. The workshop also facilitated the exchange of best practices related to all levels of command, and concerning the various phases of military operations. In addition, the workshop was documented audio-visually and a promotional video subsequently produced and distributed online.

SYRIAN ARAB REPUBLIC
Emergency consolidation works on the bridge leading to the citadel of Aleppo (2017)

Following extensive clashes within the city, The World Heritage Property of the Ancient City of Aleppo sustained severe damage that left large parts, including the Citadel, in ruins. In particular, the 13th century external gate of the Aleppo Citadel, as well as the 700-year-old wooden door, sustained severe damage. In the context of the priority of interventions in the Ancient City of Aleppo identified in the framework of the damage assessment carried out on behalf of the Syrian Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM) between May and September 2017, the Heritage Emergency Fund supported emergency consolidation works at the entrance and bridge leading to the Citadel of Aleppo. The consolidation project was initiated on 25 September 2017 and completed on 10 December 2017.

Damage assessment mission to the Ancient City of Aleppo (2017)

With the support of the Heritage Emergency Fund, and on behalf of the Syrian Directorate Generale of Antiquities and Museums, staff from Aleppo Antiquities Museums (AAM) mapped damage to the built cultural heritage in the Ancient City of Aleppo from 26 May to 7 September 2017. The intervention allowed for the management of debris and the prioritization of needs for rapid interventions. Assessments conducted by the team showed damage to architecturally valuable structures caused by conflict that had also led to disruptions to social and traditional life. The displacement of local residents resulted in the disruption of handicraft production and related commercial activities, a tradition that had survived for thousands of years. On the ground, the team worked in coordination with the Municipality of Aleppo to manage debris not containing archaeological elements in order to clear the streets leading to the Umayyad Mosque and the Aleppo Citadel. Damage assessments were carried out on 170 public historic buildings in view of their restoration, while valuable fragments of stonework were stored in safe locations.

First Aid meeting on the Ancient City of Damascus (2016)

Following the fire that devastated the Al Asrooniya neighbourhood in April 2016, a First Aid meeting on the World Heritage property of the Ancient City of Damascus was organized in Beirut, Lebanon from 14 to 16 November 2016. Representatives of the Syrian General Directorate of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM), the Syrian Union of Engineers and Architects, the University of Damascus, the Islamic Waqf, civil society representatives, and UNESCO experts, discussed issues related to risk mitigation, site management, documentation, and restoration. A detailed understanding of the damage caused by the fire and a comprehensive overview of the emergency work conducted by the Municipality were presented at the meeting. Strategic recommendations and follow-up actions were also decided.

Rapid assessment mission to Palmyra (2016)

Following the devastations in the city of Palmyra, provoked by the escalating armed conflict in Syria, a rapid assessment mission was dispatched in April 2016, through the Heritage Emergency Fund, to assess the damage and identify emergency measures at the archaeological site and at the museum. Considerable damage had been inflicted on the museum building, and most of its collections had to be evacuated to a safe location before the occupation of the site. The intentional destruction of the remaining artefacts at the museum, including the Lion Statue of Athena at the entrance of the museum, was also noted. The mission also confirmed the deliberate acts of destruction that were shown by aerial photos and propaganda images when the site was inaccessible. The implementation of specific short-term, mid-term and long-term recovery measures for the archaeological site and the museum was recommended.

Emergency interventions at the museum of Palmyra (2016)

Following the destruction perpetrated by ISIS militants, emergency interventions were implemented at the museum of Palmyra between May and June 2016. In a first phase, an assessment of damage to the building and the collections was conducted and a conservation survey of the collection and the building was carried out, including proposals on how the building could be repaired and defining protective measures at the museum to prevent looting. In a second phase, documentation work was conducted, in cooperation with the French firm ICONEM, in order to record the situation at the museum by using 3D processing and simulations. More than 14000 high-resolution photographs of the artefacts were taken. In the third and final phase, fragments of damaged sculptures and mosaics were collected and prepared for transportation to Damascus.

YEMEN
Meeting on GIS, museums and awareness raising activities for safeguarding cultural heritage (2016)

A meeting on GIS, museums and awareness raising activities for safeguarding cultural heritage in Yemen was organized in Venice, Italy, from 19 to 20 December 2016. Experts from different archaeological missions in Yemen, specialists from the British Museum and Oxford University, and UNESCO representatives gathered for a discussion of, among others, the development of a heritage management platform for Yemen. The meeting led to the adoption of a provisional road map for archaeology, museums and culture-related awareness activities within the overall framework of the Emergency Response Plan for the country.

ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA
Caribbean Regional Working Conference on Disaster Recovery and Heritage Preservation (2018)

Following the devastation caused by the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane season, a conference was organised by the Caribbean Branch of the International Council on Archives (CARBICA) in coordination with the International Council on Archives, involving regional policy makers, emergency responders and cultural heritage stewards who gathered to discuss disaster recovery and heritage preservation. Held in Phillipsburg, Sint Maarten from 30 July to 3 August 2018, the conference attracted participants from Antigua and Barbuda, Bermuda, Curaçao, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Martinique, Sint Maarten, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, Puerto Rico, Suriname, Tortola and Trinidad and Tobago. They discussed their national responses to the impacts of the hurricane season on their cultural heritage, any challenges encountered, as well as lessons learnt. An important conference outcome was the development of a Memorandum of Agreement between the Parties in the Caribbean Heritage Protection Network. UNESCO, through the Heritage Emergency Fund, provided support to the conference, which is in keeping with its focus of protecting cultural heritage from threats posed by disasters, through disaster management planning, strategies and policies and via post-disaster needs assessments.

CROATIA
Training of Croatian World Heritage site managers on disaster risk reduction (2017)

Following a request from the Government of Croatia, a national training workshop was organized by UNESCO from 25 to 28 September 2017 on the Island of Hvar in order to bring together site managing authorities, emergency response/civil protection agencies, and World Heritage focal points from Croatia. In this framework, the Heritage Emergency Fund supported the mission of the Chief of the Emergency Preparedness and Response Unit of UNESCO’s Culture Sector in order to contribute technical expertise to the workshop. This mission resulted in the building of capacities for implementing disaster risk reduction principles in site management plans, and in the strengthening of coordination mechanisms between key actors at the national and local levels.

DOMINICA
Elaboration of the culture chapter of the post-disaster needs assessment (2017)

Following Hurricane Maria, the Heritage Emergency Fund supported a mission to Dominica to lead the elaboration of the culture chapter of the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA). The mission took place from October 16 to 31, 2017, and highlighted that the World Heritage Property of Morne Trois Pitons National Park was severely damaged during the hurricane, along with other historical sites and cultural industries. The PDNA report informed discussions at the CARICOM-UN High Level Pledging Conference scheduled on 21 November 2017, and which resulted in over US$1.3 billion in pledges and US$1 billion in loans and debt relief to help the affected countries, including Dominica, in post-disaster reconstruction and recovery.

ECUADOR
Elaboration of the culture component of the post-disaster needs assessment in Ecuador (2016)

On 16 April 2016, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck coastal areas in northwest Ecuador, causing widespread damage and loss of life. Subsequently, a Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) for Ecuador was undertaken, and the UNESCO Office in Quito supported the Government in the drafting of the culture component, aiming at assessing damage to cultural heritage (including historical archives, libraries and museums) in the disaster zone. Two evaluation and assessment missions in the areas affected by the earthquake were conducted and their findings allowed for the finalization of the culture component included in the overall PDNA.

FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA
Risk assessment mission to the underwater cultural heritage site of Chuuk Lagoon (2017)

A risk assessment mission to the Second World War shipwreck site of Chuuk Lagoon (Federated States of Micronesia) was undertaken in May 2017, for the purpose of conducting a detailed assessment of the hazards associated with the WWII shipwrecks, as well as their sustainable management. Since the mission, additional financial resources to support the safeguarding of underwater cultural heritage in the Chuuk Lagoon have been secured through the Government of the Federated States of Micronesia, in partnership with an NGO, to identify and mitigate the risks from fuel that is still contained in the shipwrecks. In addition, the Heritage Emergency Fund supported the printing and publication of a scientific report, Safeguarding Underwater Cultural Heritage in the Pacific: Report on Good Practice in the Protection and Management of World War II-Related Underwater Cultural Heritage.

HAITI
Elaboration of the culture component of the post-disaster needs assessment in Haiti (2016)

Hurricane Matthew struck south-west Haiti on 4 October 2016. It was responsible for 546 deaths and destroyed around 200,000 homes, leaving 1.4 million people in need of humanitarian aid. Subsequently, a Post-Disaster Needs Assessment was launched and the UNESCO Office in Port-au Prince was entrusted with supporting the Government in the drafting of its culture component, with the aim of assessing the damage to cultural heritage in the disaster zone. A consultant hired to support this exercise participated in assessment missions to the affected areas in the second half of November. As a result, the damage assessment of heritage and cultural repositories in the areas affected by the earthquake was completed and a draft of the culture component of the PDNA was included in the final document. Cooperation strengthened between cultural institutions at the national and local levels. 

ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN
Damage assessment mission to the region of Kermanshah (2017)

A series of earthquakes in November 2017 caused significant loss of life and livelihoods in the region of Kermanshah in the western part of Iran on its border with Iraq. In addition, seismic events caused damage to a number of heritage sites. In this context, the Heritage Emergency Fund supported a rapid post-earthquake damage assessment to the affected sites in partnership with the Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts & Tourism Organization. The mission, which took place from 13 to 21 December 2017, resulted in a detailed assessment of the typology and level of damage, an assessment of new risks, an overview of the cultural needs of the communities around the sites, and the identification of priorities as well as recommendations of possible interventions.

MALI
Damage assessment mission to the World Heritage property of the Tomb of Askia (2017)

On 8 August 2017, part of the roof of the World Heritage site ‘Tomb of Askia’ collapsed in Gao, Mali. Responding to a request for international assistance from Mali’s Ministry of Culture, the Heritage Emergency Fund supported the deployment of an urgent diagnostic/assessment mission from 6 to 8 September 2017. The aim of the mission was to undertake a detailed assessment of the causes leading to the collapse of part of the roof of the prayer room, an analysis of the urgent restoration measures already implemented by the local community, as well as establishing a costed plan of priority interventions for complementary rehabilitation.

MEXICO
Post-earthquake emergency response to Puebla, Mexico (2018)

Among the 1,847 heritage buildings to sustain damage from the earthquake that struck Mexico on 19 September 2017, the monasteries that are part of the UNESCO World Heritage site on the slopes of Popocatepetl suffered the worst damage. Three field visits undertaken by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), UNESCO Mexico and partner institutions confirmed the precarious structural state of the monastery complex of Tochimilco. At risk of imminent collapse were the built heritage components including naves, the façade, rib and vault, the main tower of the belfry, the main steeple, and the chapels. Along with providing emergency support measures to stabilise the monastery’s structure, assessment studies were carried out to prepare a more detailed plan for restoration and conservation. The plan recommended the use of 3D modelling technologies, the documenting and cataloguing of debris, the collation of archival material, the preparation of a longer-term restoration plan and the development of a training workshop to engage local youth and workers in conservation activities. The restoration works, which were funded by the Heritage Emergency Fund, were completed in July 2018.

MYANMAR
Earthquake emergency response in Bagan, Myanmar (2016)

In the wake of a 6.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Myanmar on 24 August 2016, which significantly damaged the archaeological site of Bagan, an initial damage assessment was immediately undertaken showing that almost 400 monuments had been affected. A three-month-long work plan was developed for the emergency response phase and 18 leading experts in all areas of the work plan were deployed to Bagan. Their task was to develop urgent recommendations for immediate action, train Myanmar officials and volunteers in conducting emergency response interventions, and plan for long-term recovery to meet the highest standards. An agreement made with the authorities led to the setting up of an Earthquake Response Coordination Office (ERCO) and a Technical Office.

PERU
Damage assessment mission to the regions of Piura, Lambayeque, and La Libertad (2017)

Following the local phenomenon of El Niño, which resulted in flooding, landslides, and heavy rains in Peru in early 2017, a number of important National Heritage sites, cultural intangible expressions, and museums found in the affected regions of Piuria, Lambayeque, and La Libertad were damaged. In this framework, the Heritage Emergency Fund supported a mission to Peru in May 2017 to conduct an assessment of needs for the culture sector in the affected regions, in collaboration with the Peruvian authorities. The findings of the assessment were used by the Ministry of Culture to inform the national budget for the culture sector for 2018, of which US$10 million was allocated for activities relating to disaster risk protection.

SAINT KITTS AND NEVIS
Caribbean Regional Working Conference on Disaster Recovery and Heritage Preservation (2018)

Following the devastation caused by the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane season, a conference was organised by the Caribbean Branch of the International Council on Archives (CARBICA) in coordination with the International Council on Archives, involving regional policy makers, emergency responders and cultural heritage stewards who gathered to discuss disaster recovery and heritage preservation. Held in Phillipsburg, Sint Maarten from 30 July to 3 August 2018, the conference attracted participants from Antigua and Barbuda, Bermuda, Curaçao, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Martinique, Sint Maarten, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, Puerto Rico, Suriname, Tortola and Trinidad and Tobago. They discussed their national responses to the impacts of the hurricane season on their cultural heritage, any challenges encountered, as well as lessons learnt. An important conference outcome was the development of a Memorandum of Agreement between the Parties in the Caribbean Heritage Protection Network. UNESCO, through the Heritage Emergency Fund, provided support to the conference, which is in keeping with its focus of protecting cultural heritage from threats posed by disasters, through disaster management planning, strategies and policies and via post-disaster needs assessments.

SAINT LUCIA
Caribbean Regional Working Conference on Disaster Recovery and Heritage Preservation (2018)

Following the devastation caused by the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane season, a conference was organised by the Caribbean Branch of the International Council on Archives (CARBICA) in coordination with the International Council on Archives, involving regional policy makers, emergency responders and cultural heritage stewards who gathered to discuss disaster recovery and heritage preservation. Held in Phillipsburg, Sint Maarten from 30 July to 3 August 2018, the conference attracted participants from Antigua and Barbuda, Bermuda, Curaçao, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Martinique, Sint Maarten, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, Puerto Rico, Suriname, Tortola and Trinidad and Tobago. They discussed their national responses to the impacts of the hurricane season on their cultural heritage, any challenges encountered, as well as lessons learnt. An important conference outcome was the development of a Memorandum of Agreement between the Parties in the Caribbean Heritage Protection Network. UNESCO, through the Heritage Emergency Fund, provided support to the conference, which is in keeping with its focus of protecting cultural heritage from threats posed by disasters, through disaster management

TONGA
Damage assessment of cultural heritage after Cyclone Gita (2018)

When Cyclone Gita struck the Kingdom of Tonga on 12 February 2018, several historical buildings and cultural heritage sites suffered severe damage prompting the government to request the assistance of UNESCO. A team of international experts commissioned by UNESCO undertook a detailed assessment of the individual sites to assist the government of Tonga in the preparation of a recovery plan. Among the sites impacted was the Old Parliament Building, which is of exceptional significance to the country because of its links to the establishment of modern Tonga. Several archaeological sites also suffered damage including Heketa, the initial site of the Tu’I Tonga chiefdom and place where the first monumental stone architecture in Tonga was made, including the oldest royal tomb (langi), also the Lapita Pottery Archaeological Site (Nukuleka) and the Ancient Royal Tombs of Lapaha (Mua). The mission was from 16 June to 23 June 2018 and was supported by the Heritage Emergency Fund.

YEMEN
Meeting on GIS, museums and awareness raising activities for safeguarding cultural heritage (2016))

A meeting on GIS, museums and awareness raising activities for safeguarding cultural heritage in Yemen was organized in Venice, Italy, from 19 to 20 December 2016. Experts from different archaeological missions in Yemen, specialists from the British Museum and Oxford University, and UNESCO representatives gathered for a discussion of, among others, the development of a heritage management platform for Yemen. The meeting led to the adoption of a provisional road map for archaeology, museums and culture-related awareness activities within the overall framework of the Emergency Response Plan for the country.