Yemen’s treasures threatened by antique raiders

Updated 01 February 2018
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Yemen’s treasures threatened by antique raiders

NEW YORK: Archaeology buffs warned on Wednesday that Yemen’s antique treasures are at risk of plunderers and urged collectors to avoid buying anything that might have been looted amid the chaos of the country’s civil war.
The International Council of Museums (ICOM) said several Yemeni sites and museums have already been looted and released a 13-page “Red List” report about it for traders and customs officers at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan.
The list features detailed descriptions of bronze daggers, figurines, incense burners, astrolabes, illuminated Arabic manuscripts and other items from Yemen over the past three millennia that are at risk of trafficking.
“A considerable number of sites and museums have been looted and cultural objects from Yemen are today at risk of being illegally trafficked,” France Desmarais, ICOM’s director of programs and partnerships, told Arab News.
“The need for a tool to help protect the cultural heritage of Yemen is more than urgent.”
Cultural relics looted from Yemen, Syria, Libya and other war-torn countries have been discovered in Switzerland and other European nations that have sought to crack down on an illegal trade that helps fund extremists.
ICOM’s watch-lists describe antiques that are “on demand on the art market and are at risk of being looted, stolen or illegally exported.” They aim to persuade traders against buying items that cannot be traced to source.
“Individuals and institutions wishing to acquire cultural objects from Yemen are urged not to acquire objects presented on this list without having thoroughly researched its origin and all the legal documentation,” says the ICOM report.
“In the event of any doubt as to the legality of the transaction, buyers should abstain from acquiring the object.”
In March, G-7 nations — Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Britain, the US and Italy — signed an accord to strengthen global collaboration to protect cultural heritage after the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra and the shrines of Timbuktu in Mali were ravaged.
A Saudi-led coalition is fighting in Yemen on behalf of an internationally backed government against Houthi forces, which controls Sanaa and much of the impoverished country. Three years of war have killed more than 10,000 people and pushed the country to the brink of famine.
Yemen is one of the Middle East’s oldest centers of civilization and has four inscriptions on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites, including the historic parts of Zabid, Sanaa and Shibham. Ten other sites were suggested in 2002 before the civil war erupted.


UN, Palestinians launch humanitarian appeal after funding cuts

Updated 44 min 7 sec ago
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UN, Palestinians launch humanitarian appeal after funding cuts

  • The 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan outlined 203 projects to be carried out by 88 different groups
  • The plan prioritized 1.4 million Palestinians most in need of food, health care, shelter, water and sanitation

JERUSALEM: The United Nations and the Palestinian Authority on Monday appealed for $350 million in humanitarian relief for Palestinians next year, saying that they needed more but had to be realistic in the face of “record-low” funding.
The 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan outlined 203 projects to be carried out by 88 different groups, including UN agencies and non-governmental organizations.
The plan prioritized 1.4 million Palestinians most in need of food, health care, shelter, water and sanitation, said Jamie McGoldrick, the UN humanitarian coordinator in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem.
“Humanitarian actors are facing unprecedented challenges, including record-low funding and a rise in attacks to delegitimize humanitarian action,” he said in a joint statement issued on Monday, ahead of the appeal’s launch in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Although “much more assistance is needed,” McGoldrick said, the plan was “reflecting what we can realistically accomplish in this highly constrained context.”
Over the past year, the United States has slashed its funding to the Palestinians, including to the UN agency that provides services to 5 million Palestinian refugees.
The United States promised $365 million to the agency in 2018, but paid only a first instalment of $60 million before announcing in August that it would halt all future donations.
The move was widely seen as a means of pressuring the Palestinian leadership to enter peace negotiations with Israel.
The Palestinians want to establish a state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem — territories that Israel captured and occupied in the 1967 Middle East war.
US-brokered peace talks between the sides collapsed in 2014 and a bid by US President Donald Trump to restart them has so far showed little progress.
Around 77 percent of the funds sought in the 2019 plan would go to Gaza, the appeal organizers said, because the densely populated coastal strip faced a “dire humanitarian situation” after years of an Israeli-led blockade, internal Palestinian political divisions and casualties from demonstrations and recurring hostilities.
“The humanitarian context in the oPt (Occupied Palestinian Territories) is still deteriorating due to the Israeli occupation violations in a time of lack of resources and declining funds because of the politicization of the humanitarian aid,” Palestinian Social Development Minister Ibrahim Al-Shaer said in the statement.