- The Washington Times
Thursday, August 19, 2021

The United Nation’s cultural agency on Thursday called for increased protection of Afghanistan’s cultural sites and relics after the Taliban toppled the country’s government.

“Any damage or loss of cultural heritage will only have adverse consequences on the prospects for lasting peace and humanitarian relief for the people of Afghanistan,” said Audrey Azoulay, director-general of the U.N. Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The agency has designated several Afghan landmarks as World Heritage sites, including the Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam, built around 1190, and the Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley.

When the Taliban last controlled Afghanistan before the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, it shocked the world by blowing up two giant statues of Buddha, estimated to be 1,500 years old.

At the time, UNESCO slammed the action as a “deliberate act of destruction…that aimed to destroy culture, identity, and history.”

The Taliban this week also destroyed a memorial to an Afghan leader who fought against the brutal militant group.

UNESCO said Thursday it is committed to all possible efforts to safeguard Afghanistan’s culture. It also called for a safe environment for Afghan artists and professionals.

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