In partnership with the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), and with the financial support of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of the Swiss Government, and gracious support of H.H Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council of the UAE and Ruler of Sharjah, ICCROM-Sharjah organized an international training course on ‘First Aid to Cultural Heritage for Preventing Illicit Trafficking in times of Crisis’ in its premises from 8th to 19th December 2019.
Dr. Zaki Aslan, Regional Director of ICCROM-Sharjah said “In light of the increasing number of international crimes related to the looting and trafficking of cultural heritage and cultural properties, particularly in emergency situations, there is an urgent need to integrate cultural heritage first aid methods within existing humanitarian services provided by the police specialized units and other civil defense agencies at the national and local levels. This of course should take place in close cooperation with cultural institutions.”
25 representatives coming from INTERPOL Regional and National Bureaus and specialized police units for the protection of cultural heritage from Europe, South America, Africa, Asia, and the Arab Region participated in this two-week training course, which aimed at building the capacity of the police units on first aid to cultural heritage in times of crisis, in order to prevent looting and illicit trafficking of cultural properties in disaster or conflict situations.
The training course covered various topics including the analysis of the illicit traffic of cultural property with basic concepts pertaining to the significance of cultural heritage, and to disasters and risk management. While the first week was focusing on theoretical concepts and on sharing of police experience in this sensitive issue, the second week included field exercises on workflows of first aid to cultural heritage in times of crisis such as situation analysis, salvage, triage, evacuation, setting up temporary storage and packaging damaged artefacts.
At the end of the training, a closing ceremony was held in the presence of Sheikh Mohamed bin Hmeid Al-Qasimi, Chairman of Statistics Department in Sharjah on behalf of H.H Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah, in the premises of ICCROM Regional Office on the 19th December 2019.
The closing event was attended by a number of Ambassadors and Consul Generals of the countries represented in the course to the UAE, representatives of partner institutions such as the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as the Sharjah Museums Authority, and Sharjah Archeology Authority, and heads of Police corps of the seven Emirates.
In his welcoming speech, Dr. Zaki Aslan, the director of ICCROM- Sharjah gave a narrative of the training and its importance for the protection of our joint cultural heritage, especially with the increase of disasters and conflicts around the world.
Mr. Lieut. Col. Corrado Catesi, the Coordinator of the Interpol’s works of Art Unit stated that “this training course is one of the main results of the Memorandum of Understanding signed between INTERPOL and ICCROM to concretely improve the capacity of the police forces in preventing and countering all forms and aspects of trafficking in cultural properties and related offences”.
Mr. Vincent Pasquier, Counsellor and Deputy Head of Mission represented the Swiss Government and also spoke about the importance of this training internationally.
At the end of the closing ceremony, the participants gave a presentation on the final simulation that they implemented on the previous day, after which the certificates were handed over to them by Sheikh Mohamed bin Hmeid Al-Qasimi.