Protecting Cultural Heritage in Times of Crisis

July 20, 2016

Protecting Cultural Heritage in Times of Crisis

The economic losses from disasters are now reaching an average of US$250 to US$300 billion each year, according to the Global Assessment Report of 2015 – a resource for analyzing and understanding disaster risk globally, today and in the future. Conflicts are equally devastating – in 2014, 42 500 people were displaced by violence and con­flict every day. (Refer to the  report of the High Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing Gap)

In addition, conflicts and disasters have led to large-scale social disruptions along with cultural losses, as witnessed in Haiti, Nepal, and the ongoing crises in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. While prevention and preparedness remain key elements in reducing the impacts of conflicts and extreme nature events on cultural heritage, capacity for responding to and coping with such events needs to be enhanced.

Protecting Cultural Heritage in Times of CrisisICCROM, in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution, has developed a framework for containing damage to cultural heritage during complex emergencies. Since 2015 the two organizations, supported by a number of national and international institutions, have organized two international courses on First Aid to Cultural Heritage in Times of Crisis (FAC). The training introduces methods and tools for assessing damage, documenting and stabilizing different types of heritage during large scale and multi-layered emergencies. The aim is to develop a professional body of practice and to prepare coordination experts who can be rapidly deployed to protect cultural heritage in emergency situations.

Protecting Cultural Heritage in Times of CrisisThe 2016 edition of the FAC course was held at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC from 2 to 29 June.  Twenty-one professionals from 17 countries participated in the course. This five-week immersive training course combined lectures, group work, debates and emergency simulations. Post training, participants are committed to replicate the training and/or implement and promote projects for cultural first aid and rescue in their respective countries. A selected number of such projects will be funded by the Cultural Emergency Response Programme of the Prince Claus Fund, located in the Netherlands, and which has been a partner of ICCROM since 2011.

See also

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