Arab military women take part in UNESCO workshop

Special Arab military women take part in UNESCO workshop
For the first time, female military personnel from the armed forces of Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq gathered at UNESCO’s regional office hall in Beirut to participate in a workshop on protecting cultural property during armed conflict. (UNESCO Beirut Twitter)
Updated 03 October 2019

Arab military women take part in UNESCO workshop

Arab military women take part in UNESCO workshop

BEIRUT: For the first time, female military personnel from the armed forces of Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq gathered at UNESCO’s regional office hall in Beirut to participate in a workshop on protecting cultural property during armed conflict. They did so along with female officers from the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
“Our goal is to introduce participants to means of protecting cultural property during hostilities and military occupation,” UNESCO’s Joseph Kreidi told Arab News.
This is important because “we’re in a region that has witnessed and is still witnessing wars,” he said.
“We decided to allocate a workshop exclusively for women so as to empower them and to promote gender equality, in line with the organization’s objectives.”
Dr. Eric Klein, a senior technical adviser at UNESCO, presented a lecture on ways to protect cultural property during armed conflict, and how it could be a joint civilian-military mission.
Dr. Ali Badawi, regional director of the Lebanese Directorate General of Antiquities, shared with the participants the directorate’s experience in protecting his country’s antiquities during armed conflict.
Catherine Hanson, a researcher in preserving cultural heritage, introduced them to means of dealing with and documenting artifacts.
Myriam Haddad, a representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross, gave a lecture on how to protect civilian areas under international humanitarian law.
Col. Ziad Rizkallah of the Lebanese Army told Arab News that the Lebanese participants in the workshop have law degrees and “are military police investigators and engineers in brigades stationed on the border.”
Before going to the southern Lebanese city of Tyre, where they spent the day among its relics and ruins, the participants listened to the Lebanese experience in protecting these relics.
“The border area of Naqura abounds with ruins and relics, as do all the cities on the Lebanese coast. We rushed to conduct surveys of the sites to preserve them,” said Badawi.
“This area hasn’t witnessed urban movement for decades, which contributed to the relics’ preservation.”
Answering a question about the fate of stolen artifacts that arrive in Lebanon and are seized, Badawi said: “Lebanon keeps the seized relics, but it informs the countries that it has them in its possession, asking them to verify their loss.”
Jordanian military women praised the opportunity that the workshop provided them. “The importance of the workshop is that it allows us, with the participation of men, to safeguard cultural property,” one of them said.
An Iraqi military official said: “The workshop provided us with steps to protect our country from the theft of antiquities, and to recover stolen antiquities on display in various museums around the world.”
She added that Iran, Jordan and Syria are used as routes to smuggle antiquities out of Iraq. She highlighted the serious damage caused by Daesh to archaeological and religious sites.
“When we return, we’ll explain and teach others how we can act to preserve the relics of our country,” she said.