PARIS: World donors pledged more than $75 million Monday to protect cultural heritage sites threatened by war and the wave of ideological-driven destruction carried out by Islamic State militants.
French President Francois Hollande, speaking at a donors' conference in the Louvre Museum in Paris, said the goal for the heritage fund is $100 million and urged other countries around the world to contribute.
France is pledging $30 million for the fund and Saudi Arabia is committing $20 million, according to the French Culture Ministry. The United Arab Emirates has promised $15 million, Kuwait $5 million, Luxembourg $3 million, Morocco $1.5 million and philanthropist Thomas Kaplan pledged $1 million.
Switzerland pledged further money in administrative and legal support and will host the fund in Geneva. Italy said it would provide military personnel and conservation experts.
The conference aimed to build an international fund to prevent or stop the destruction of historical sites. Organizers also want to create a network of sites around the world to temporarily store endangered artifacts and to pay for the restoration of sites damaged by war.
Islamic State militants have stolen or destroyed a host of cultural artifacts, including the ancient Syrian town of Palmyra, the Mosul museum in Iraq and the 13th century B.C. Assyrian capital of Nimrud, which is also in Iraq.
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