$75 million pledged to protect heritage sites in war zones

AP

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  • FILE - In this Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016 file photo, a stone tablet with cuneiform writing in the foreground as UNESCO's Iraq representative Louise Haxthausen documents the damage wreaked by the Islamic State group at the ancient site of Nimrud, Iraq. France is trying to raise tens of millions of dollars from international donors who gathered Monday March 20, 2017, to protect cultural heritage sites threatened by war and the kind of destruction carried out by Islamic State militants. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo, File)

  • 1

    French President Francois Hollande delivers a speech as he participates in the International Donors' Conference for the Protection of Heritage in Armed Conflict at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France, Monday, March 20, 2017. France is trying to raise tens of millions of dollars from international donors to protect cultural heritage sites threatened by war and the kind of destruction carried out by Islamic State militants. (Stephane de Sakutin/Pool Photo via AP)

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    French President Francois Hollande delivers a speech as he participates in the International Donors' Conference for the Protection of Heritage in Armed Conflict at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France, Monday, March 20, 2017. France is trying to raise tens of millions of dollars from international donors to protect cultural heritage sites threatened by war and the kind of destruction carried out by Islamic State militants. (Stephane de Sakutin/Pool Photo via AP)

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    FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017 file photo, restorer Antonio Iaccarino Idelson shows a computer-rendered, 3D print-generated replica of a missing part of a limestone male bust, dated between the 2nd and the 3rd century A.D. that was damaged during the Islamic State occupation of the Syrian city of Palmyra, in Rome. France is trying to raise tens of millions of dollars from international donors who gathered on Monday March 20, 201, to protect cultural heritage sites threatened by war and the kind of destruction carried out by Islamic State group militants. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis, File)

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    In this Wednesday, March 8, 2017 file photo, Iraqi federal police inspect the inside of Mosul's heavily damaged museum in western Mosul, Iraq. France is trying to raise tens of millions of dollars from international donors, who gathered on Monday March 20, 2017, to protect cultural heritage sites threatened by war and the kind of destruction carried out by Islamic State group militants. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed, File)

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    In this Wednesday, March 8, 2017 file photo, an Iraqi federal policeman inspects the inside of Mosul's heavily damaged museum, in western Mosul, Iraq. France is trying to raise tens of millions of dollars from international donors who gathered on Monday March 20, 2017, to protect cultural heritage sites threatened by war and the kind of destruction carried out by Islamic State group militants. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed, File)

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    French President Francois Hollande, left, and Culture Minister Audrey Azoulay arrive to attend an International Donors' Conference for the Protection of Heritage in Armed Conflict at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France, Monday, March 20, 2017. France is trying to raise tens of millions of dollars from international donors to protect cultural heritage sites threatened by war and the kind of destruction carried out by Islamic State militants. (Stephane de Sakutin/Pool Photo via AP)

  • 7

    French President Francois Hollande delivers a speech as he participates in the International Donors' Conference for the Protection of Heritage in Armed Conflict at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France, Monday, March 20, 2017. France is trying to raise tens of millions of dollars from international donors to protect cultural heritage sites threatened by war and the kind of destruction carried out by Islamic State militants. (Stephane de Sakutin/Pool Photo via AP)

  • 8

    French President Francois Hollande delivers a speech as he participates in the International Donors' Conference for the Protection of Heritage in Armed Conflict at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France, Monday, March 20, 2017. France is trying to raise tens of millions of dollars from international donors to protect cultural heritage sites threatened by war and the kind of destruction carried out by Islamic State militants. (Stephane de Sakutin/Pool Photo via AP)

  • 9

    French President Francois Hollande leaves the podium after delivering a speech as part of an International Donors' Conference for the Protection of Heritage in Armed Conflict at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France, Monday, March 20, 2017. France is trying to raise tens of millions of dollars from international donors to protect cultural heritage sites threatened by war and the kind of destruction carried out by Islamic State militants. (Stephane de Sakutin/Pool Photo via AP)

  • 10

    President of the Arab World Institute, Jack Lang, 2nd left, is seated with French Culture Minister Audrey Azoulay, 2nd right, and the director general of UNESCO Irina Bokova, as they listen to French President Francois Hollande delivering a speech at the International Donors' Conference for the Protection of Heritage in Armed Conflict at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France, Monday, March 20, 2017. France is trying to raise tens of millions of dollars from international donors to protect cultural heritage sites threatened by war and the kind of destruction carried out by Islamic State militants. (Stephane de Sakutin/Pool Photo via AP)

  • FILE - In this Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016 file photo, a stone tablet with cuneiform writing in the foreground as UNESCO's Iraq representative Louise Haxthausen documents the damage wreaked by the Islamic State group at the ancient site of Nimrud, Iraq. France is trying to raise tens of millions of dollars from international donors who gathered Monday March 20, 2017, to protect cultural heritage sites threatened by war and the kind of destruction carried out by Islamic State militants. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo, File)

  • 1

    French President Francois Hollande delivers a speech as he participates in the International Donors' Conference for the Protection of Heritage in Armed Conflict at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France, Monday, March 20, 2017. France is trying to raise tens of millions of dollars from international donors to protect cultural heritage sites threatened by war and the kind of destruction carried out by Islamic State militants. (Stephane de Sakutin/Pool Photo via AP)

  • 2

    French President Francois Hollande delivers a speech as he participates in the International Donors' Conference for the Protection of Heritage in Armed Conflict at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France, Monday, March 20, 2017. France is trying to raise tens of millions of dollars from international donors to protect cultural heritage sites threatened by war and the kind of destruction carried out by Islamic State militants. (Stephane de Sakutin/Pool Photo via AP)

  • 3

    FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017 file photo, restorer Antonio Iaccarino Idelson shows a computer-rendered, 3D print-generated replica of a missing part of a limestone male bust, dated between the 2nd and the 3rd century A.D. that was damaged during the Islamic State occupation of the Syrian city of Palmyra, in Rome. France is trying to raise tens of millions of dollars from international donors who gathered on Monday March 20, 201, to protect cultural heritage sites threatened by war and the kind of destruction carried out by Islamic State group militants. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis, File)

  • 4

    In this Wednesday, March 8, 2017 file photo, Iraqi federal police inspect the inside of Mosul's heavily damaged museum in western Mosul, Iraq. France is trying to raise tens of millions of dollars from international donors, who gathered on Monday March 20, 2017, to protect cultural heritage sites threatened by war and the kind of destruction carried out by Islamic State group militants. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed, File)

  • 5

    In this Wednesday, March 8, 2017 file photo, an Iraqi federal policeman inspects the inside of Mosul's heavily damaged museum, in western Mosul, Iraq. France is trying to raise tens of millions of dollars from international donors who gathered on Monday March 20, 2017, to protect cultural heritage sites threatened by war and the kind of destruction carried out by Islamic State group militants. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed, File)

  • 6

    French President Francois Hollande, left, and Culture Minister Audrey Azoulay arrive to attend an International Donors' Conference for the Protection of Heritage in Armed Conflict at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France, Monday, March 20, 2017. France is trying to raise tens of millions of dollars from international donors to protect cultural heritage sites threatened by war and the kind of destruction carried out by Islamic State militants. (Stephane de Sakutin/Pool Photo via AP)

  • 7

    French President Francois Hollande delivers a speech as he participates in the International Donors' Conference for the Protection of Heritage in Armed Conflict at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France, Monday, March 20, 2017. France is trying to raise tens of millions of dollars from international donors to protect cultural heritage sites threatened by war and the kind of destruction carried out by Islamic State militants. (Stephane de Sakutin/Pool Photo via AP)

  • 8

    French President Francois Hollande delivers a speech as he participates in the International Donors' Conference for the Protection of Heritage in Armed Conflict at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France, Monday, March 20, 2017. France is trying to raise tens of millions of dollars from international donors to protect cultural heritage sites threatened by war and the kind of destruction carried out by Islamic State militants. (Stephane de Sakutin/Pool Photo via AP)

  • 9

    French President Francois Hollande leaves the podium after delivering a speech as part of an International Donors' Conference for the Protection of Heritage in Armed Conflict at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France, Monday, March 20, 2017. France is trying to raise tens of millions of dollars from international donors to protect cultural heritage sites threatened by war and the kind of destruction carried out by Islamic State militants. (Stephane de Sakutin/Pool Photo via AP)

  • 10

    President of the Arab World Institute, Jack Lang, 2nd left, is seated with French Culture Minister Audrey Azoulay, 2nd right, and the director general of UNESCO Irina Bokova, as they listen to French President Francois Hollande delivering a speech at the International Donors' Conference for the Protection of Heritage in Armed Conflict at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France, Monday, March 20, 2017. France is trying to raise tens of millions of dollars from international donors to protect cultural heritage sites threatened by war and the kind of destruction carried out by Islamic State militants. (Stephane de Sakutin/Pool Photo via AP)

PARIS (AP) World donors pledged more than $75 million Monday to an historic UNESCO-backed alliance to protect cultural heritage sites threatened by war and the wave of ideological-driven destruction carried out by Islamic State group militants.

French President Francois Hollande, speaking at a donors' conference in Paris' Louvre Museum, passionately called on more countries to contribute to the newly-created heritage alliance and help push it past its "ambitious" $100 million goal.

"At Bamiyan, Mosul, Palmyra, Timbuktu and elsewhere, fanatics have engaged in trafficking, looting and the destruction of cultural heritage, adding to the persecution of populations," Hollande said.

A number of cultural artifacts and heritage sites have fallen victim to the Islamic State group. In 2015, the ancient Syrian ruins of Palmyra were seized by militants who then destroyed the UNESCO heritage site's famed temples of Bel and Baalshamin. IS militants raided Iraq's Mosul museum claiming its pre-Islamic statues were against Islam. The 13th-century B.C. Assyrian city of Nimrud was hit with bombs and bulldozers.

In coordination with UNESCO, the International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas (ALIPH) aims to prevent heritage site destruction, fight trafficking of stolen artifacts and pay for restoration. But it also seeks to create a global network of storage and safeguarding sites.

"The first emergency is Iraq. We will need to carry out a precise inventory of the damages to monuments, museums and libraries. But there are other critical situations. Mali, Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria," he added.

Hollande suggested Monday that a Group of Seven culture ministers meeting in Florence next week could be used to get further donations.

Six countries and one philanthropist pledged a total of $75.5 million at Monday conference, which was held in an ancient Middle Eastern sculpture-clad wing of the Louvre.

France pledged the most at $30 million, with support forthcoming from Arab countries including Saudi Arabia ($20 million), the United Arab Emirates ($15 million), Kuwait ($5 million) and Morocco ($1.5 million.)

Luxembourg pledged $3 million, and private donor Thomas Kaplan promised $1 million.

Switzerland pledged a further $8 million in operational and administrative costs to help set up the fund's first headquarters in Geneva.

Italy, meanwhile, said it would provide an ALIPH task force that includes military personnel and conservation experts.

Germany, China and Mexico said they would help by storing the heritage objects threatened by war in national museums, and lobby countries to do the same.

The first concrete steps to creating ALIPH came about in a meeting between Hollande and Abu Dhabi's powerful crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in the Emirati capital in December.

"This achievement is truly historic," said Mohamed Al Mubarak, the crown prince's special representative.

"Since the Abu Dhabi declaration was signed in December 2016, the efforts to transform an idea into a concrete action have been extraordinary.... This effort has happened and will not be forgotten."

         

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