UNESCO Chief Bokova Urges Iraq to Divert Pipeline from Babylon
Irina Bokova, the Bulgarian Director-General of UNESCO, has asked the government of Iraq to divert an oil pipeline that goes under the ruins of Ancient Babylon.
Bokova herself announced her request in an interview for the French newspaper Le Monde.
"On August 1, I sent a letter to the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki in which I am asking him to divert the installation out of respect for world history, and not in order to hinder the country's development," the UNESCO chief is quoted as saying.
The oil pipeline that goes under Ancient Babylon was completed on March 25, 2012.
Bokova has reminded that Ancient Babylon is in the first phase of being including in UNESCO's World Heritage list.
In her words, the oil pipeline goes through unexplored zones, and can destroy unknown remains that may be important for human history.
At the end of March, the last sections of this pipeline triggered a letter expressing "concern" from Unesco's deputy director general for culture to the Iraqi minister for tourism and antiquities.
In Iraq the pipeline is the subject of dispute between the oil and tourism ministries, and the Iraq state board of antiquities and heritage (Isbah) is challenging the legality of the project.
"The oil ministry has caused incalculable damage by digging a 1,500-metre-long tunnel under the Babylon archaeological site," declared Qa?s Hussein Rachid, Chairman of Isbah, to the news agency Agence France-Presse in mid-May.
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