Khawatmi says 470 bn needed to rebuild monuments in Syria

Aga Khan Museum board member says figure equal to EU deficit

02 March, 21:47

    PALERMO - Radwan Khawatmi, a member of the board of directors of the Aga Khan Islamic Museum in Toronto, Canada, said 470 billion dollars will be required to rebuild monuments in war-torn Syria.

    "The reconstruction of destroyed monuments in Syria will be a Marshall Plan multiplied by three, because it requires an investment of 470 billion dollars, a figure equivalent to the European deficit, but there are already investors ready," Khawatmi said.

    "After all, in history it's never happened that an entire country has been razed to the ground and this requires an extraordinary intervention from the whole world," he said.

    Khawatmi's comments came during a presentation of the project "Palermo-Aleppo, a bridge for peace" at the Sicilian capital's city hall.

    The initiative, part of the programme for Palermo Italian Capital of Culture 2018, will serve to restore the monuments that have been a part of UNESCO World Heritage since 1986.

    It will be financed entirely by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, a non-profit created to rebuild developing countries.

    "Sixty percent of the works in Syria have been completely destroyed," said Khawatmi, who is originally from Syria.

    "With our organisation, we come onto the scene when the cannons stop and the extremists put down their hammers. It took nine months of mapping and work with drones and the best international engineers and technicians. Among these, a Sicilian, Francesco Rinaldi, who is teaching the local population how to recover historic stones," he said.

    "We are planning to bring the suq back to original condition by November, and to complete the project in December 2020. In Syria terrorists came from 58 countries with shocking proclamations, we moved in the heart of the civil war to save the mosque of Aleppo and the minaret, 45 metres tall, knocked down by the blind hate of fanaticism. But the mayor and the councillor (of Palermo, ed.) have opened the doors to their community to us to tell us of their wounds," he said.

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