16 April 2003

Secretary-General Says Catastrophic Losses to Iraq's Cultural Heritage

"A Wound Inflicted on All Humankind"

NEW YORK, 15 April (UN Headquarters) -- The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

The Secretary-General deplores the catastrophic losses to Iraq's cultural heritage that have occurred in recent days and weeks. 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. He also joins the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) 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. He notes that Iraq's cultural treasures bear witness to an invaluable legacy for all humanity, and their loss is a wound inflicted on all humankind.

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