Libya antiquities in danger, International Council of Museums warns

LibyaAfter destroying antiquities in their controlled areas in Iraq and Syria, there are fears that militants of the Islamic State group in Libya would embark on a similar campaign according to a statement released by the International Council of Museums (ICOM) on Tuesday. The statement was released as an Emergency Red List of Libyan Cultural Objects at Risk five days after the extremist group entered the historic city of Sabratha which houses a Roman amphitheater, a Roman era trading center and also boasts of stone paintings and carvings as old as 12,000 years. Cyrene, once a Greek colony, has sculptures and mausoleum carvings believed to be at risk too.
There are no deliberate reports of antiquities being destroyed but the statement from the international body is expected to alert custom officials and police forces and art traders of the potential looting of Libya’s historical heritage as it pointed out that Sufi mosques in Tripoli have been victims of theft and pillaging before being destroyed.
UN warned of the risks posed by the militants of the Islamic State while the head of UNESCO wants the destruction and looting of Syrian and Iraqi antiquities to be considered as a war crime. The International Council of Museums stated that there are no records of actions “aimed at clearing all signs of the past” in the North African country but they are “in peril” while lamenting that “the country is in full chaos” as forces of the two governments continue to fight making it difficult to monitor developments on the ground.
The illegal trade of antiquities is believed to be one the activities financing the activities of the terrorist groups because there are always buyers in the black market.

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