|06PARIS6247||2006-09-18 16:15:00||UNCLASSIFIED||Embassy Paris|
null Lucia A Keegan 09/20/2006 10:01:31 AM From DB/Inbox: Lucia A Keegan Cable Text: UNCLAS PARIS 06247 SIPDIS cxparis: ACTION: UNESCO INFO: ECON AMBU AMB AMBO DCM SCI POL DISSEMINATION: UNESCOX CHARGE: PROG APPROVED: CHARGE: AKOSS DRAFTED: POL: DROSTROFF CLEARED: SCI: NCOOPER VZCZCFRI037 OO RUEHC RUEHTV RUEHLB DE RUEHFR #6247 2611615 ZNR UUUUU ZZH O 181615Z SEP 06 FM AMEMBASSY PARIS TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1431 INFO RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 0554 RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 0441
UNCLAS PARIS 006247
1. Summary: UNESCO officials reported that damage to key Lebanese
World Heritage sites was much less than expected, based on an
initial report by UNESCO experts. End summary.
2. A press conference was held this morning, September 18, at UNESCO
headquarters to present the findings of a special mission of
cultural preservation experts sent to Lebanon September 10-15 to
examine damage at Lebanese World Heritage sites that had been
damaged in the recent conflict.
3. The team, led by former UNESCO Cultural Assistant Director
General, Mounir Bouchenaki, was invited by the Lebanese Ministry of
Culture, to visit Lebanon's listed World Heritage sites: Baalbek,
Tyre, Anjar, and Byblos.
4. According to Bouchenaki, the Baalbek site did not suffer any
major visible damage. One stone block of the Jupiter Temple complex
fell as a result of nearby bombing, and certain cracks had
apparently widened. Outside of the World Heritage site, some
traditional homes and parts of the old souk were, however, damaged.
5. In Tyre, The seaside site did not suffer any visible damage.
There was, however, some damage to the Roman era frescos in the
site's caves, where some of the frescos were detached from the walls
due to vibrations from the bombings.
6. At Anjar, the ramparts, palace and mosque had no visible
7. The most immediate concern was for the problems the team found
at Byblos, where the port had suffered from an important oil spill.
While most of the oil has been removed, the UNESCO team fears that
the oil residue on the stone foundations of the harbor must be
removed quickly and by hand to avoid any lasting damage. The team
estimates that a team of 20-25 young Lebanese, trained on stone
conservation could clean the stone in 8-10 weeks maximum, before
8. ADG Francoise Riviere told the press conference that USD 75,000
has been set aside for initial funding of the World Heritage
emergency work. She said that she is also in discussions with the
Italian government and with the European Union regarding additional
funding for the repairs. Riviere mentioned a possible donation of up
to USD 1 million from the European Union. She estimated that USD
100,000 should be sufficient to repair the damage surveyed at this
point. A second mission will be sent in the future to develop more
complete studies on damage to the Lebanese World Heritage sites, as
well as to create a "risk map".
9. Photos and a video report on the sites that were visited are
currently on the UNESCO website, www.unesco.org.
10. Comment: The tone of the press conference was in keeping with
UNESCO's recent efforts to treat Lebanon as a technical problem that
can be solved without resort to politics. Both Riviere and
Bouchenaki batted away questions from Middle Eastern journalists
that attempted to pin blame on Israel and in one case asked why
UNESCO is not asking Israel to pay for the cleanup of Byblos. A
member of the Israeli UNESCO delegation told Charge after the
meeting that he, too, was satisfied with the even-handedness of the