Global Cultural Organizations Raise USD 5 Million For Beirut
By Fion Tse
The Geneva-based International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas (ALIPH) Foundation announced on August 24 the initial distribution of USD 5 million in aid for museums, libraries, and other cultural-heritage sites damaged in the Beirut port explosion on August 4.
Administered by ALIPH in collaboration with the Netherlands-based Prince Claus Fund and the non-governmental Lebanese Committee of the Blue Shield, the package will support emergency relief efforts for 20 listed heritage buildings, including the National Museum of Beirut. Home to a significant collection of archeological objects, the institution is among the first to receive ALIPH funding, allocated to restoration efforts by the Directorate General of Antiquities of Lebanon in partnership with the Louvre Museum in Paris. ALIPH executive director Valéry Freland stated that the “objective is to finance as quickly as possible concrete and operational measures to protect and restore damaged heritage, especially to avoid further weakening by the next rainy season” in December.
The announcement of the aid package follows ALIPH’s statement of solidarity pledging to support the recovery of Lebanon’s cultural heritage following the blast. The statement, released August 11, was signed by nearly 30 international and governmental organizations, including the United Arab Emirates Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, Blue Shield International, the Louvre Museum, and the International Council of Museums (ICOM). Initial studies led by international organizations including ICOM and UNESCO found that around 650 heritage-listed houses and buildings have been damaged, particularly in the mid-19th century Gemmayzeh neighborhood, close to the port.
The Lebanese capital is still reeling from the devastating explosion of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, which was left in a warehouse at the port for six years. The blast killed at least 181 people and wounded more than 6,000, in addition to leaving an estimated 300,000 homeless. Many artists have joined forces to raise funds for emergency aid organizations as well as the restoration of the city’s cultural spaces.
ALIPH was founded in 2017 by the governments of France and the United Arab Emirates. Since its inception, the foundation has allocated close to USD 22 million in projects and grants to preserve cultural heritage across sixteen countries, including Afghanistan, Mali, Palestine, and Syria.
Fion Tse is an editorial intern at ArtAsiaPacific.