The INTERPOL General Secretariat organized on 8 and 9 March 2016 their Experts Group (IEG) on Stolen Cultural Property that took place at the INTERPOL Headquarters in Lyon, France with 30 participants from USA, Europe, Lebanon, Syria, UNESCO representatives, Security Council, International Customs and INTERPOL.
The first day of the meeting was dedicated to the current situation in Syria, Iraq and to the known transit and destination (end market) countries, to find ways to restrict the financing of organized crime and terrorism from the Middle East. The UNESCO Resolution 2199 of 2015 on the illicit funding of terrorist groups and the current status of work in its implementation were also discussed.
Prof. Dr. Maamoun Abdulkarim, Director-General of Antiquities and Museums in Syria, talked during the meeting about the current situation of the Syrian Cultural Heritage, he mentioned that during the past five years in Syria the Illegal excavations and theft of cultural artifacts have increased, and the profile of looters and smugglers has changed. He added that the situation get worse following the arrival of the Terrorist organization ISIS, they destroy irreplaceable artifacts and lay siege and loot hundreds of archeological sites under their control as a means of financing terrorism.
The Director-General highlighted the protective measures done by the DGAM during the crisis which succeeded in restoring more than 6500 artifacts in cooperation with the government authorities, he stated that 99% of the artifacts in the museums are safe and unscathed.
Finally, he argued the International community to help target looting of the shared Syrian cultural heritage in a major way by adopted the UN Resolution 2199 of 2015 and he also argued the neighboring countries to control the border to prevent the smuggling of the Syrian cultural property