UNESCO has approved Italy’s suggestion to have the United Nations’ famous Blue Helmets protect heritage sites around the world from attacks by Islamist militants.
“UNESCO has said yes to the Cultural Blue Helmets,” culture minister Dario Franceschini said in a statement, adding that 53 countries voted in favour after the destruction of sites including Palmyra in Syria by the Islamic State (IS) group.
“Faced with IS terrorist attacks and the terrible images of Palmyra, the international community cannot stand back and watch,” he said, adding that the permanent members of the security council had supported the idea.
United Nations peacekeepers, known by their distinctive blue helmets, would be able to profit from the expertise of Italy’s cultural and heritage police, “who carry out training missions around the world”, he said.
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