The Iraqi Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Antiquities has partnered with UNESCO to help restore some 1,800 heritage sites across Nineveh, many of which were destroyed by ISIS or neglected over the years.
The Iraqi Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Antiquities has announced that it will partner with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to rebuild, rehabilitate and review the 1,800 cultural, archaeological, historic and religious sites in Nineveh Province, many of which were destroyed by ISIS militants or suffered looting and neglect over the years.
The partnership between the Ministry and UNESCO represents one of the most ambitious projects undertaken to revive heritage sites in Nineveh and recover what has been destroyed by ISIS. Such sites include the ancient cities of Nimrud and Nineveh, the Nabi Yunus Shrine, the Mosul Museum and the Nuri Mosque. Many of these sites were destroyed by the militants due to being anathema to the group’s ideology. Others were looted to be sold off on the black market, raising additional revenue for the militant group.
The first sites to be assessed by the Ministry and UNESCO were the Mosul Museum, which was looted by the militants in 2014, and the Nuri Mosque, which the militants blew up during their last stand in the Old City. It is hoped that restoring these iconic buildings to their former splendour can then help gain further funding for the restoration of other sites across the Nineveh Province.
Referred as as “Alif” (“Alpha”), the restoration efforts of these two sites are supported by the United Arab Emirates and the United States, both of which have provided funding and experts for the project. The United States has also provided support for the restoration of numerous churches and Yazidi temples across the province.
It would appear that the efforts of the ISIS militants to destroy heritage sites has galvanised many Iraqis to save such cultural artefacts or take better care of them. Even prior to the partnership between the Ministry and UNESCO, ordinary Iraqis have been heavily involved in cataloguing and rebuilding the artefacts destroyed or damaged during the ISIS rule. One hopes that the availability of further resources and expertise can expedite this process, allowing for heritage sites in Nineveh and across Iraq to flourish.