The recent conflict in Libya called for emergency assessment missions to determine the cultural heritage situation. After the success of the first mission to the Tripolitanian area, Blue Shield and the International Military Cultural Resources Work Group (IMCuRWG), two organizations involved in international protection of cultural heritage, organized a second mission, to obtain independent confirmation on possible damage and looting, to meet with Libyan officials and to get a first hand impression of the situation. This time the team went to Eastern Libya, Cyrenaica.
Both organizations took advantage of their experiences during the Civil-Military Assessment Mission on the status of Egyptian Heritage, February 12-16, 2011. During that mission, Blue Shield and IMCuRWG managed to get the first independent heritage assessment team into Egypt.
The objectives of the current Libyan missions go beyond mere damage assessment. They also focus on typical post war problems such as illegal digging and illicit traffic of cultural property. An international, timely and independent mission of this kind provides support on the general level while at the same time giving a mid-term perspective. In addition this demonstration of international concern and solidarity will encourage those Libyans who protected their heritage under extremely difficult conditions. Since the Libyan state, civil society and military are in a process of fundamental transformation, it is vital to be in contact with those who are currently responsible for Libya’s heritage. This way assistance is given to raise awareness on the protection of cultural property, and international professional support is offered and discussed on a personal and direct level.
Photo: Blue Shield Second Fact Finding Mission to Libya, November 2011. The mission team in Benghazi (f.l.t.r.: unknown, BS President Karl von Habsburg, Joris Kila)