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UNDP launches campaign to restore Turkiye's cultural heritage in quake-hit regions

December 8, 2023 at 3:44 pm

Resident Representative in Turkiye of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Ms. Louisa Vinton speaks at Renaissance Polat Istanbul Hotel in Istanbul, Turkiye on 20 October, 2022 [Serhat Cagdas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images]

The UN Development Program (UNDP), on Friday, launched a global online “crowd funding” campaign to restore cultural heritage damaged or destroyed by the twin earthquakes that hit southern Turkiye on 6 February, Anadolu Agency reports.

“The campaign centres on the website and appeals to individuals, investors, companies and governments to pitch in to help restore the region as a priceless ‘mosaic’ of cultural diversity,” read a statement issued by the UNDP.

This February, more than 50,000 people were killed and 313,000 buildings were destroyed by earthquakes with magnitudes 7.7 and 7.6 hit 11 provinces, home to about 14 million people.

Some 3,752 of the 8,444 historical structures in the region that has hosted 13 different civilisations over thousands of years of history were damaged or destroyed, the UNDP said.

“Restoring cultural heritage is a priority in our earthquake recovery efforts,” said UNDP’s Turkye Resident Representative, Louisa Vinton.

Turkiye’s Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism, Serdar Cam, said in the statement, “We count on the same spirit of cross-border solidarity and generosity as we turn to the daunting task of rescuing the priceless cultural heritage we now risk losing forever, along with all “the many communities that depend on it for their identity and livelihoods.”

The campaign will focus on six sites: the Hatay Archaeology Museum, which houses one of the world’s most renowned mosaic collections; the imposing 2,000-year-old Gaziantep Castle; the 14th-century Sarimiye Mosque in central Antakya; the Mar John Greek Orthodox Church in the Arsuz district of Hatay; the elegant market bazaar hosting hundreds of shops in central Kahramanmaras and the archaeological site of ancient Arsameia in Adiyaman, where King Mithridates once ruled.

In addition to individual donations, the campaign is seeking large-scale contributions from donors and the private sector, said the UNDP.

It said the governments of Bulgaria, Greece and Romania have already signed on to support the campaign as anchor partners through their foreign affairs ministries.

READ: New Museum of Islamic Civilisations set to open Friday in Turkiye’s largest mosque