On Friday 28 October, the International Course on First Aid to Cultural Heritage in Times of Conflict came to a close. Participants received their certificate at an inspiring farewell celebration in the presence of all ICCROM staff.

The fifth and final week focused on early recovery, monitoring and evaluation. Participants discussed the role of cultural heritage in post-war recovery with Sultan Barakat of the Post-war Reconstruction and Development Unit, University of York. This was followed by a very animated brainstorming session led by ICCROM's Alison Heritage, on cultural heritage projects that participants could launch in their countries. Also of interest was a role-playing exercise led by Yaaminey Mubayi of the India National Culture Fund that focused on the engagement of communities, as well as discussions on the rehabilitation of historic cities with Jurjen van der Tas of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.

The highlight of the week, however, was a simulated exercise organized in collaboration with a group Italian Red Cross volunteers called the Pionieri di Roma. As part of the simulation, the premises of the Red Cross were converted into the scene of bomb explosion, where there were human casualties as well as damaged collections. Participants had to work in teams to salvage the collection of culturally sensitive objects, prioritize treatment, and document and pack the items, while having to deal with the international media, representatives from the government, and the army.

For the past five weeks, 19 participants from 19 countries have made ICCROM their home. They built on their diverse experiences to create new knowledge. It was a powerful and touching experience for all who were involved.

ICCROM wishes to thank all course partners for making this course a success: UNESCO, Blue Shield, the Prince Claus Fund, as well as the Carabinieri Cultural Heritage Protection Unit and the Italian Red Cross Pionieri di Roma. Finally, this initiative would not have been possible without the support of the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities (MiBAC).

Here is what some of the participants had to say about the course:

“The ICCROM First Aid Course has given me more confidence in my daily work with cultural emergencies in the Horn of Africa and it has also made me aware that I am not alone, since I have met people from conflict places around the world who are doing similar work.”

“I’m so glad I had the possibility to participate. There was so much information – all of which will be useful in my daily work for the protection of monuments, but also in my daily life (security awareness, analysis tools, etc.).”

“It was so great to have the chance to learn from each other and from so many internationally renowned teachers! Even more engaging were the many practical exercises.”

“It was really very fantastic! I will never forget these moments in my life. Now I am planning a project back home.”

“The FAC11 course was a great opportunity to enrich and improve my professional skills while establishing friendly cooperation and with the different participants. The lectures and activities injected in me a genuine enthusiasm and the idea that we can truly contribute and make a difference in preventing damage to cultural heritage in our countries.”

“How can I use my professional knowledge on heritage protection in times of conflict and emergency situations? What are the main issues and priorities when it comes to first aid? How can I manage to work within unfamiliar contexts? All those questions were answered during the course, making me feel confident about delivering first aid to cultural heritage in times of conflict. ”

Member States represented: Afghanistan, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Colombia, Egypt, Italy, Kenya, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Senegal, Spain, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Turkey