Cambodias Angkor Wat Off Unesco Danger List


2004.07.05
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PHNOM PENH — ; Cambodia's most famous monument, the ancient temple city of Angkor Wat, has been taken off a World Heritage danger list by the United Nations cultural body.

The temple and palace complex is now relatively safe from pillage and destruction, a meeting of UNESCO's World Heritage committee said during its 28th annual meeting in the eastern Chinese city of Suzhou.

"The removal of Angkor from the danger list is a commendment to the efforts made by the Cambodian government. It is also a commendment to international cooperation on the conservation of Angkor," Ros Borath, deputy director general of Cambodia's Department of Monument and Archaeology, told reporters.

"We hope the international community will continue to offer help to us even though Angkor is not on the danger list any more," he said.

Angkor was listed on both World Heritage List and on the World Heritage in Danger List in 1992 as being seriously threatened by illegal excavation, looting, and landmines

Restoration activities coordinated by UNESCO since 1993 at the monument could be considered a "success story," Xinhua quoted an agency statement as saying.

The capital of Hindu kings who ruled large areas of Southeast Asia, Angkor flourished from the 9th to the 14th centuries. Its stone temples include Cambodia's national symbol, Angkor Wat, which appears on the country's flag.

Historians have traditionally believed the city was sacked by Siamese invaders in 1431, although recent research points also to an earlier demise attributed to ecological failure and infrastructure breakdown. It lay forgotten, covered by heavy jungle, until a French explorer stumbled on the ruins 141 years ago.

According to UNESCO, the last 10 years have seen most of Angkor's serious problems solved, following international investments totaling U.S.$50 million, the commitment by the Cambodian government and UNESCO's own coordination.

With international assistance, Cambodia has carried out more than 100 restoration and development projects in the last 10 years, including the clearing of more than 25,000 anti-personnel mines — ; some 3,000 of which were found in archaeological sites — ; and the destruction of 80,000 other explosive devices.

Cambodia has also set up special heritage protection police force, created a detailed inventory of cultural goods, and campaigned against the sale of stolen objects — ; which have largely ended cultural pillaging in the protected area, an article on the U.N. body's Web site said.

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