UNESCO is deeply concerned about recent reports of military activities on the Island of Meroe, in Sudan, whose archaeological sites are inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Organization calls on parties not to target or use these sites for military purposes.
The Archaeological Sites of the Island of Meroe, a semi-desert landscape between the Nile and Atbara rivers, were the heartland of the Kingdom of Kush from the 8th century B.C. to the 4th century A.D. This World Heritage site, inscribed in 2011, consists of the royal city of the Kushite kings at Meroe, near the River Nile, the nearby religious site of Naqa and the temple complex Musawwarat es Sufra.
Following reports indicating military activities in this area, UNESCO calls on all concerned parties to fully respect international law, including the 1954 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, which stipulates that cultural property must neither be targeted nor used for military purposes, and is following the evolving situation very closely.
Given the high risks of looting and illicit trafficking of cultural property due to reduced security capacity at Sudanese heritage sites, UNESCO also calls for the vigilance of law enforcement agencies, art market actors and all cultural professionals to refrain from acquiring or taking part in the import, export or transfer of ownership of cultural property when they have reasonable cause to believe that the objects have been stolen, illegally alienated, clandestinely excavated or illegally exported from Sudan.
Since April 2023, UNESCO has been mobilizing within the framework of its mandate to support the culture, education, science and information sectors in Sudan. In addition to recalling international law, the Organization implemented a series of emergency measures in the country and in neighboring countries. More information here.