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$500 million appeal for Iraq to be launched: UNICEF
by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) June 1, 2015

Museums draw up 'red list' to help spot stolen Iraqi antiquities
Paris (AFP) June 1, 2015 - Museum experts from around the world on Monday issued an "emergency red list" to help authorities identify Iraqi antiquities at risk of being looted and illegally exported as the country battles a surge in jihadist violence.

The list from the Paris-based International Council of Museums (ICOM) highlights objects that are popular on the black market such as sculptures, stone tablets, vases and coins, and tells customs and police officers how to spot stolen ancient treasures.

"In recent months we have witnessed massacres of minorities in Syria and Iraq but also the destruction of priceless works of cultural heritage," the head of Paris's famed Louvre Museum, Jean-Luc Martinez, said at a press conference presenting the new list.

"These are two parts of the same strategy that has been described as 'cultural cleansing' which seeks to erase entire segments of human history," he added.

Items on the list range from millennia-old Mesopotamian goods to 19th-century artefacts from the reign of the Ottomans.

ICOM's president Hans-Martin Hinz said that since 2000 the organisation has published red lists for over 25 nations.

"It is a solution with proven results," he said, adding that art dealers should "stop buying objects that come from Syria and Iraq."

Created in 1946, ICOM brings together over 35,000 members including museum professionals in 137 countries and cooperates with UNESCO, the World Customs Organization and Interpol to fight against the illicit trafficking of antiquities.

Iraq's cultural heritage is protected by national laws and international conventions.

Humanitarian organisations are preparing to launch a fundraising appeal for $500 million (454 million euros) for the crisis created by the Islamic State group in Iraq, UNICEF said on Monday.

The announcement came a day ahead of a meeting in Paris of the US-led coalition of countries working to defeat the jihadist group in Iraq and Syria.

"The humanitarian situation in Iraq is close to disaster! We urgently need extra resources," Philippe Heffinck, UNICEF's representative in Iraq, said in a statement in French.

"500 million is really the bare minimum. We're cutting it down to the bare bone," he added in later comments to AFP.

According to the UN children's agency, eight million Iraqis are in urgent need of humanitarian aid, in particular the roughly three million people who have been forced to flee their homes since the start of the IS offensive in June 2014.

"We expect that this will increase by one million more by the end of the year," predicted Heffinck.

Access, however, has been hampered by the fighting and a lack of funding is now even threatening such humanitarian assistance as has been possible, UNICEF said.

As a result, all those organisations currently operating in Iraq will in Brussels on Thursday launch "a fundraising appeal for nearly $500 million to cover relief operations over the next six months", the agency added.

"We hope that all the countries, western and neighbouring, will respond. The situation is too desperate," stressed Heffinck.

"If we don't do it now, we are going to have a major disaster that will cost much more to the international community," he added.

The US-led coalition of some 60 nations was formed last year after IS went on a rampage across Iraq and Syria, seizing key territory and declaring a caliphate.

Ministers from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates are expected to be among 24 participants attending the anti-IS coalition meeting in Paris.

The main focus of the meeting will be the situation in Iraq, where IS seized the city of Ramadi two weeks ago in the biggest blow to the coalition since it began bombarding jihadist positions in August.


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Ship carrying over 400 people sinks in China's Yangtze: state media
Beijing (AFP) June 1, 2015
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