The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.

UNESCO resumes preservation of endangered heritage sites in Bamyan

A UNESCO initiative in the imperiled heritage sites of the central province of Afghanistan’s Bamyan has resumed after its sudden pause following the Islamic Emirate takeover in mid-August 2021. The Italian-funded project is focused on preserving Bamyan Valley, whose cultural landscape and archaeological remains were placed on UNESCO’s World Heritage in Danger list in 2003. The area contains numerous wall paintings and religious relics from the 3rd to the 5th century CE. The project’s goals include strengthening the infrastructure on the site and developing a long-term conservation plan, in the process providing generations of employment to the local community. Special attention will be given to the Bamyan cliffs, a long rocky stretch of the central highlands of Afghanistan, and Shahr-i Ghulghulah, a fortress dating from the 6th to 10th centuries CE. Carved into the cliffs are numerous Buddhist artifacts, which once included a famed pair of seated Buddha statues. “The Bamyan Valley is the most monumental expression of the western Buddhism. It was an important center of pilgrimage over many centuries,” UNESCO wrote in its citation. “Due to their symbolic values, the monuments have suffered at different times of their existence.” Following the Islamic Emirate takeover, international funding to Afghanistan was immediately halted, including development and humanitarian aid. Meanwhile, the country’s heritage was largely left undefended from damage and looting. In several statements, UNESCO appealed for precautions to safeguard the region’s historical artifacts from the organization, given their “welldocumented” cultural destruction. UNESCO operates in the country within the perimeters of the Transitional Engagement Framework (TEF), a strategic planning document for its assistance in the country implemented in 2022. The plan prioritizes humanitarian aid and the preservation of local heritage. T he terrain in Bamyan is mountainous or semi-mountainous, at the western end of the Hindu Kush mountains concurrent with the Himalayas. The province is divided into eight districts, with the town of Bamyan serving as its capital. It is the largest province in the Hazarajat region of Afghanistan and is the cultural capital of the country. In addition to Bamyan, UNESCO is currently engaged in the preservation of the Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam, a World Heritage site in western Afghanistan; and sites in Zabul, Kandahar, Kabul and Ghazni. Monitoring Desk/ S. Raqib

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.