UN: Angkor Temples No Longer Endangered

After more than a decade, the temples of Angkor were removed from the “in danger” portion of the UN Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s World Heritage list, UN officials an­nounced Sunday.

Since 1992, the Angkor Archeo­­logical Park has been considered in danger. But the move, made at a meeting of the Unesco World Heritage Committee in Suz­hou, China, reinforces efforts to protect the temples, said Etienne Clement, Unesco representative to Cambodia.

“It’s a good encouragement for the people who have been working hard for 10 years,” Clement said Monday. “Cambodians have now been able to set up tools for good management.”

Much is still to be done to protect Angkor, he said, citing the illegal building of restaurants and karaoke parlors as some of the most egregious encroachments at the site.

Bun Narith, director of the Apsara Authority, said the development was a tribute to years of hard work.

“Within 10 years, we’ve had re­markable success,” Bun Narith said Monday. “We have solved the big, big problems, but the small problems we still continue to [work to] solve.”

He said authorities have largely stifled the market for Angkorian artifacts—one of the requirements to be removed from the “in danger” list.

But the Apsara Authority’s former director general Vann Molyvann said looting of temples at remote sites continues.

“We are very afraid for the looting of…excavation [sites] that archeologists are doing in Cambodia,” he said Monday.

He also cautioned that unregulated tourism could also damage the temples—especially if international researchers left the area.

Unesco’s Tamara Tenei­shvili, standing secretary for the International Coordinating Com­mittee for Angkor, said other requirements for removal from the list included the passage of legislation protecting the site and Cambodia’s cultural heritage.

Two other sites removed from the list were Oman’s Bahla Fort and Uganda’s Rwen­zori Moun­tains National Park.                                     Some 32 sites are still are on the “in danger” list, out of a total of 788 sites on the World Heritage List, according to the UN.

(Additional reporting by Kay Kimsong)

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