PARIS: The United Nations cultural body UNESCO on Tuesday voiced growing concern for Egypt’s archaeological sites and museums, which it said were threatened by pillaging since the country’s revolution.
"We’re getting new alarming reports from different sites and museums," UNESCO head Irina Bukova told a meeting on fighting the international illegal trade in artifacts at the body’s Paris headquarters.
"We are worried," she said.
UNESCO launched an initial appeal for Egypt’s priceless artifacts to be protected on Febr. 1 after artifacts were stolen from the Egyptian Museum during the chaos of Egypt’s popular revolt.
Bokova said she wrote last week to the Egyptian authorities to encourage them "to take concrete measures to protect the sites."
"We also need international mobilization to block the objects when they turn up on the art market."
UNESCO said it had invited Egypt’s former antiquities chief Zahi Hawass to attend the meeting but he was unable. Instead he sent a message in which he appealed for international help to deal with "looters and opportunists."
"In these dark days, when some of our most important sites are suffering from the depredations of the looters and opportunists who are taking advantage of the current power vacuum, we call upon the international community for help," Hawass wrote.