The war in Ukraine is well into its second year, and on 18 February this year a devastating earthquake struck Syria and Türkiye. Hundreds of thousands have been killed, and many more displaced. Alongside the human tragedy is the damage to and loss of their historic and religious cultural heritage. Blue Shield Türkiye have been working around the clock to map heritage damage in the affected areas since the earthquake, and Blue Shield national committees have been working with key partners in actively fundraising to send heritage aid to the affected areas.
Blue Shield France is working with ICOM France and ICOMOS France on sending protective equipment to Syria following the earthquakes and the consequences of the conflict, based on their experience taking action to safeguard Ukrainian heritage. At the initiative of ICOM and with the assistance of the transporter Chenue, convoys have been organized to send conservation material. Relayed by Blue Shield France (Bouclier Bleu Francois, BBF), 75 tons of material were sent in 5 separate convoys. The BBF established a logistics platform to coordinate a second convoy of material from the south of France thanks to the commitment of the carrier LP Art which allowed rapid access to trucks. This collection in the south of France shows the strong mobilization of BBF volunteers. Over the 15 days of collection, 15 tons of materials were acquired from six departments. This experience of setting up collections of aid material is critical in enabling BBF to provide assistance to help Syria following the earthquake.
Preparation and transport of heritage conservation supplies from France to Ukraine, 2023. © Bouclier Bleu France
Blue Shield Belgium are also sending heritage aid to Ukraine. Working with Belgian heritage organisations, in particular FARO, along with archives, heritage libraries and museums, they have collected boxes of much needed conservation material, dehumidifiers, generators, cabinets, and racks and other equipment. The protective material collected was worth 10,000 euros.
The call for aid in Belgium was issued through the General Directorate of Civil Security – International Relations Service of the FPS Home Affairs, and was made through the Flemish Museum Consultation. Material emergency assistance to Ukraine is coordinated by the EU Civil Protection Mechanism and B-FAST organises logistics: Blue Shield Belgium helped to find a suitable transit depot in the Brussels-Capital Region, as well as assisting with the communication and with the preparation of the donated material for shipment to Ukraine. Material was gratefully received in Kiev by the Heritage Emergency Response Initiative (HERI), a member of the new Blue Shield National Committee in Ukraine which is Under Construction. HERI have been working since the start of the conflict to distribute heritage aid material to those in need. The material will be used to apply a protective covering around monuments and heritage objects and to safely pack and store archive documents.
Preparation and transport of heritage conservation supplies from Belgium to Ukraine, 2023. © FARO, M Leuven, Belgian Committee of the Blue Shield, KADOC-KU Leuven, with thanks.
The Department of Culture, Youth and Media, with the Collection of the Flemish Community, and the Archives of the Flemish Government were key supporters of the initiative, providing use of their depot, the Knowledge site of Vilvoorde. Contributors and supporters included: AMVB; the Library of the Constitutional Court Brussels; the Design Museum Gent; Erfgoedlabo Leuven (KADOC-KULeuven, KULeuven Library Maurits Sabbe, PARCUM, M Leuven and Stadsarchief Leuven); FARO; FOMU; Musea Brugge; Musea Ieper; Stadsarchief Herentals and Stadsmuseum Lier.
More information on the Belgium shipment to Ukraine can be found on the FARO website
and the website of Blue Shield Belgium
and more information on the Blue Shield France shipment to Ukraine can be found on the news websites of LaDepeche.fr and La Marseilles and the website of Blue Shield France