Entries in UNESCO (6)


Syrian Airstrike Hits 12th Century Castle

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(HOMS, Syria) -- Video has emerged of a Syrian airstrike hitting one of Syria’s most famous landmarks, Crac des Chevaliers. Opposition activists released footage showing a direct hit on one of the castle’s towers, followed by a massive blast.

“This is the destruction caused by MiG airstrike on the Crac des Chevaliers,” says one activist filming.

A second video shows severe damage inside the castle, and a third video features the sound of airstrikes overhead.

Built in the 12th century, the crusader castle is one of six UNESCO World Heritage sites in the country, once described by T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) as the “best-preserved and most wholly admirable castle in the world.” Known in Arabic as Qala’at el Hosn, or the “stronghold castle,” it is strategically located on a hill at the western entrance to Homs, not far from the Lebanese border.

Activists in the area tell ABC News that the castle, which is currently controlled by the opposition, has come under heavy aerial bombardment in recent days as forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad battle for Homs.

It’s not the first time Crac des Chevaliers has been hit. In January 2013 activists uploaded footage purporting to be a government attack on the castle:

In July 2012, the Director General of UNESCO appealed for the protection of the castle and Syria’s other heritage sites including the ancient city of Aleppo, Palmyra, the Ancient Villages in Northern Syria and Damascus. Earlier this year, UNESCO added all six sites to its World Heritage in Danger list.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Great Wall of China Longer Than Previously Reported

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BEIJING) -- The Great Wall of China is already the longest man-made structure in the world but we may have to start calling it the Greater Wall of China.

A five-year archaeological survey done by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH) found that the total length of the Great Wall was 13,170 miles long and reached across 15 provinces. This is more than twice the length previously thought. In 2009, SACH reported that the wall was 5,500 miles and stretched across 10 provinces.

“The previous estimation particularly refers to Great Walls built in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), but this new measure includes Great Walls built in all dynasties,” Yan Jianmin, the office director of the China Great Wall Society, told the China Daily.

Archaeologists and mapping experts conducted field surveys in 15 provinces and found 43,721 sites related to the Great Wall, according to the report.

“As thousands of years pass, some ground structures disappear, and we do not know where the walls used to be. When some local governments or companies develop the land, like coal mining or building new roads, they destroy the remaining parts under the ground,” Jianmin told the China Daily.

The survey, which began in 2007, is part of the Great Wall protection project, which aims to preserve and protect the wall.

“Now we are clear about the location of the Great Wall, so the government can take steps to protect the walls, and local governments are clear about their responsibility to protect the walls,” Jianmin told the China Daily.

Construction of the Great Wall began more than 2,000 years ago to ward off invasions, but only eight percent of the wall is still standing today.

The Great Wall is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and was declared a UNESCO World heritage site in 1987.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Titanic Wreck to Go Under the Protection of UNESCO

Universal History Archive/Getty Images(PARIS) -- The iconic sunken luxury liner that has captured both the world’s fascination and curiosity for nearly a century will go under the protection of the United Nations cultural agency UNESCO on April 15.

The wreck of the R.M.S. Titanic will be protected under the 2001 Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage exactly 100 years after its fateful sinking in international waters off the coast of Newfoundland.

Titanic’s sinking was "anchored in the memory of humanity" and it is important to offer protection to a site where 1,500 people lost their lives, director-general of UNESCO Irina Bokova said. "There are thousands of other shipwrecks that need safeguarding as well....We do not tolerate the plundering of cultural sites on land, and the same should be true for our sunken heritage.”

The 2001 convention, which only protects vessels that have been submerged for at least 100 years, will permit only signatory governments authority to seize artifacts stolen from the Titanic and give them power to prevent any exploration on the wreck "deemed unscientific or unethical."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Israel West Bank Construction to Speed Up After UNESCO Vote 

AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images(JERUSALEM) -- Israel will continue with the construction of about 2,000 housing units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and place a temporary freeze on tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority.  The move is thought to be in retaliation to the announcement that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has awarded Palestinians full membership into the organization.

In a statement, according to Bloomberg, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the settler homes will be built "in areas that in any future arrangement will remain in Israeli hands."

Palestinian officials say the move will break down the peace process.

Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, says Israel's decision will only speed up the destruction of the peace process, according to BBC News.

One member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization Executive Committee called the move "an obituary for the peace process," Bloomberg reports.

A spokesman for Abbas told the Jerusalem Post that "freezing tax revenues belonging to the Palestinian Authority is a provocation and theft of our money."  

There is no final word on whether Israel plans to make its annual payment to UNESCO of $2 million.  The United States has already stated it would freeze a $60 million to the organization scheduled for later in November, the Jerusalem Post reports.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


UNESCO Votes in Palestinians, US Cuts Funding

MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images(PARIS) -- The U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) voted Monday to give the Palestinian Authority full membership into the cultural organization. The vote was 107 in favor, 14 opposed and 52 abstentions.

Calling Monday’s vote "regrettable" and “premature,” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland announced that the U.S. would immediately cease providing funds to UNESCO.  Citing "legislative restrictions," Nuland said the U.S. will withhold a $60 million funding payment that was to have occurred in November -- a portion of the $77-80 million that the U.S. contributes annually.  

The legislative restriction Nuland cited refers to a 1990 law that prevents the U.S. from funding U.N. organizations that recognize Palestine as a member.

"We disagree with that vote and we disagree with the implications...not only for the environment for the negotiations, but the implications for UNESCO, which is an organization that we support," Nuland said.

The symbolic vote sets the stage for the Palestinian Authority doing the same at other U.N. agencies. The U.S. has staunchly opposed such a move, saying the best path for the Palestinians for statehood is through direct engagement with Israel.

The U.N. Security Council is to meet on Nov. 11 to determine if the U.N. General Assembly should hold a vote on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' request for membership to the U.N.

Israel said Monday's action was a "unilateral Palestinian maneuver" that is "tantamount to a rejection of the international community’s efforts to advance the peace process."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


State Department Grows Frustrated with Palestinian Leaders

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The State Department is expressing frustration over the latest Palestinian tactic to achieve statehood without conducting peace talks with Israel.

Palestinian leaders have asked for state membership to the U.N. sub-agency on education, science and culture, called UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). The executive board of UNESCO has just approved that application, sending it to a vote in the general assembly of the cultural body.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged UNESCO to think again before proceeding. She called the move "inexplicable," questioning why a sub-agency would decide on a statehood matter when that issue is currently being debated by the main body of the United Nations. And Israel says it's another tactic to avoid negotiations.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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