“Grave responsibility” to protect culture and religious groups in Middle East

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UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson with Irina Bokova, head of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Photo: UNESCO.

Greater international effort must be made to halt the destruction of cultural heritage and persecution of religious and ethnic communities in the Middle East, the UN Deputy Secretary-General said on Monday.

Jan Eliasson was speaking in Paris on the eve of an international conference to address these two concerns.

Dianne Penn reports.

Mr Eliasson will attend the event alongside Irina Bokova, head of the UN cultural organization, UNESCO.

Speaking to journalists in the French capital on Monday, he expressed solidarity with the UN agency, and commended France and Jordan for organizing the conference.

The Deputy Secretary-General said  the world must take concerted action to confront the “growing danger” posed by militant groups to cultural heritage and religious minorities.

"There is a grave responsibility on members of Security Council to deal with this problem, and there is also grave responsibility for the member states, the countries of the region, to do what they can to stop this horror. That would lead to such positive consequences, hopefully, for the people of Iraq and Syria; for the neighbouring countries who now have a great refugee pressure, and for Europe and other countries that are feeling the effects of this war."

The UN cultural organization, UNESCO, said the region's cultural heritage and diversity "must be safeguarded for future peace, as part of the identity of all humanity."

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1’08″


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