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Myanmar Earthquake: ICCROM and SEAMEO-SPAFA Involved in Heritage Protection

Myanmar Earthquake Cultural Heritage [1]

A violent 6.8 earthquake hit central Myanmar on 24 August 2016, killing at least four people and damaging the archaeological site of Bagan. Once the capital city of the historical Pagan Kingdom, the site of Bagan contains more than 2500 Buddhist monuments built from the 10th to 14th centuries, including temples, stupas and monasteries. It is estimated that more than 100 ancient Buddhist pagodas were damaged in Bagan.

Following the earthquake, a range of aid and recovery measures have been established in different areas, including the protection of cultural heritage. Among the organisations involved in these activities are the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) and the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaeology and Fine Arts (SEAMEO-SPAFA)

ICCROM

ICCROM has recently been asked by the UNESCO Bangkok office to be involved in emergency response and recovery measures [2] to prevent further damage and loss to cultural property at Bagan.

In this respect, a joint expert mission to Myanmar will take part in the overall planning for emergency measures, damage assessment and setting priorities. The mission will suggest solutions for stabilisation, and help organise debris clearance and temporary storage of movable heritage resources and collation of documentation.

ICCROM has also organised a “training of trainers” staff activity for Myanmar’s Department of Archaeology and National Museum and on-site volunteers, which began on 9 September 2016. The main goal is to strengthen local capacities and ensure that locals are involved and fully capable to conduct field activities.

The organisation welcomes the assistance of its Member States, donor institutions and individuals who wish to contribute to ICCROM’s newly-launched Cultural Heritage Fund [3], to be used to support recovery activities in the event of severe crises affecting cultural heritage, as is now happening in Bagan.

Donations will enable ICCROM to provide services at request of and in coordination with Member States.  These services include: technical assistance to assess damage and post-disaster needs for cultural recovery; mobilization of a cultural expert network; on-site training in context-specific “first aid” for all types of cultural heritage; building capacity for recovery, resilience and risk reduction; and technical assistance in preparing risk management plans.

For additional information about these activities, please visit http://www.iccrom.org/iccrom-supports-myanmar-after-the-earthquake/ [2]

SEAMEO-SPAFA

Meanwhile, SEAMEO-SPAFA, which is part of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO), has also expressed its sympathy and concern for these losses and indicated its plans to lend technical advice to assist in damage assessment to cultural heritage monuments.

SEAMEO-SPAFA is collecting donations [4] from the public to assist with the conservation efforts of the ancient monuments in Myanmar affected by the earthquake. Donations, to be sent by 31 October, will be channelled by SEAMEO-SPAFA to the Department of Archaeology and National Museum under the Ministry of Culture, Myanmar.

For additional information, please visit http://www.seameo-spafa.org/seameo-spafa-extends-support-earthquake-hit-myanmar/ [4]