UNESCO calls for global response to extremism

UNESCO on Sunday (July 10th) called for a strong global response to the threats posed by extremism to cultural heritage sites around the world, AFP reported.

The meeting in Istanbul of the World Heritage Committee comes less than two weeks after the main airport in Istanbul was hit by a triple suicide attack that has been blamed on the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL).

The group has destroyed irreplaceable heritage in neighbouring Syria and Iraq.

UNESCO director general Irina Bokova said at the opening ceremony of the 11-day session that world heritage was under threat in countries riven by unrest from Mali to Yemen.

"Our response should be strong on the ground and also strong in a moral sense," she said.

"The fact we are here... in a city which is a bridge between East and West... is an important message to share with the world when we see violent extremists target human rights and cultural diversity," Bokova said.

Bokova also paid tribute to those who had risked their lives to preserve cultural heritage, in particular the caretaker of Palmyra, Khaled al-Assaad, who was murdered by ISIL in 2015.

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