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France and the UAE Pledge $45 Million for New Cultural Heritage Fund

At a cultural heritage conference in Abu Dhabi last weekend, French President François Hollande announced that France will commit $30 million to a new international fund established to safeguard heritage sites endangered by armed conflicts or terrorist groups such as ISIS, France 24 reports. The United Arab Emirates added $15 million to the fund.

According to The National, representatives from forty countries attended the two-day summit and all approved of the creation of the fund. Among the officials present were Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, emir of Kuwait; Abdrabu Mansur Hadi, president of Yemen; Ashraf Ghani, president of Afghanistan; Ibrahim Keita, president of Mali; and Fayez Al Sarraj, prime minister of the Libyan Government of National Accord.

“This conference presents a very important opportunity to join efforts and to cooperate with the international community to protect national heritage that is increasingly threatened,” said Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy supreme commander of the armed forces. “As a result of civil wars and conflicts and the destruction of heritage sites by terrorists groups, and the illicit trafficking by groups that aim to obliterate the international heritage of humanity, this conflict is rejected by all divine religions and human nature.”

Organizers hope to raise another $55 million in private donations in order to reach a total of $100 million. A foundation in Geneva will be charged with managing the fund, which will be modeled after the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.

In coordination with UNESCO, the fund aims to prevent the destruction of historical sites, stop the trafficking of looted artifacts, finance restoration efforts for sites that have been damaged, and create a network of safe houses where artifacts can be stored. Hollande said the Louvre museum’s storeroom will be available for countries to send any artifacts for safekeeping and asked other museums to do the same.