During a UNESCO seminar held in Paris to celebrate 40 years of the UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, UNESCO head Irina Bukova announced that a special UNESCO delegation is to visit Egypt early next week to check the status of Egypt’s arcaheological sites and monuments, especially those subject to looting attempts.
Bukova also raised concern for Egypt’s archaeological sites and museums and called on the Egyptian authorities to take concrete measures to protect these sites. She said action would be taken to block the stolen objects from reaching the antiquities trade market.
Zahi Hawass, former minister of state for antiquities affairs, was invited to the seminar but was unable to attend. Instead, he sent a letter calling for the help of the international community. “In these dark days, when some of our most important sites are suffering from the depredations of looters and opportunists who are taking advantage of the current power vacuum, we call upon the international community for help,” wrote Hawass.
The Antiquities Department has issued lists of antiquities known to be missing from the Egyptian Museum and from storage facilities that have been robbed. Hawass asked that this list be circulated, so dealers could identify pieces if they on the black market.
“Although I have resigned from my position as head of the Antiquities Department, due to the current situation, I will continue to do everything in my power to help my country fight against the illicit trafficking of antiquities,” Hawass added.