The Italian Task Force “Unite for Heritage,” which specializes in the protection of cultural heritage during international emergencies, arrived in Beirut this week to assess to damage of the Aug. 4 blast.
Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini volunteered the team’s services to Lebanon’s caretaker Culture and Agriculture Minister Abbas Mortada. Comprised of a civilian component of the Italian Culture Ministry, and a military component of the Italian carabinieri of the command for the protection of cultural heritage, the delegation will be in Lebanon until Oct. 19.
“Adding to our contributions in the health and education sectors, in rubble removal, in CBRN [chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense] safety, in the humanitarian field, Italy is deploying its best expertise in the protection of historical heritage,” Italian Ambassador Nicoletta Bombardiere said upon the task force’s arrival, “to contribute to the rehabilitation of the damaged neighborhoods, preserving the cultural and social fabric of the areas affected and supporting the Lebanese population.”
The task force’s team of architects and restorers, specialized in the rehabilitation and conservation of both architectural and mobile heritage, will conduct an independent assessment of Beirut’s heritage buildings.
They aim to contribute to the efforts of the Directorate General for Antiquities, to identify the area where an Italian project of restoration and rehabilitation will be undertaken, and to establish a partnership between the Italian carabinieri and Lebanese authorities, seeking to counter the trafficking of stolen cultural heritage.
The initial assessment will include institutional meetings, as well as field visits to the neighborhoods most affected by the explosions.
“The mission to Beirut of the Italian ‘Blue Helmets of Culture,” recently deployed in Albania after the earthquake of Nov. 26, 2019, confirms the capacity of the Italian Task Force to swiftly respond to the challenges posed by the ever-growing emergencies, to the protection of cultural heritage,” Franceschini said in a statement. “The carabinieri of the command for the protection of cultural heritage, together with the restoration experts of the Italian Culture Ministry, in partnership with UNESCO, will support the Lebanese authorities in securing the damaged heritage, engaging competences and professional capacities renowned worldwide. With this mission, Italy’s commitment for the protection of the global heritage continues.”