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Tuesday, 18 February, 2003, 17:49 GMT
Afghans repair broken heritage
Kabul museum
The museum was gutted by fire in the civil war
Afghanistan has begun the long, slow process of restoring its cultural heritage.

In the capital, Kabul, on Tuesday, two small rooms in the city's museum were reopened, ready to begin repairing the collection of thousands of statues that were smashed two years ago.

We have lack of expertise because we have had 23 years of conflict, during which time technology has developed a lot and we have stayed far behind

Omerakhan Massoudi
Museum general director
It is estimated that as many as 2,000 statues were destroyed by the former Taleban regime inside the Kabul museum in the spring of 2001.

This came after the building was wrecked and looted during the country's civil war in the 1990s.

The BBC's Kylie Morris in Kabul says the loss of the museum's treasures is immense, as Afghanistan is where East meets West, and its artefacts testify to the multiple traditions of Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam.

The damage might have been greater, but for museum workers who hid priceless treasures from the Taleban.

National pride

The British Government, with the advice of the British Museum, has paid for the renovation of the two rooms within the museum, where artefacts can be put back together.

British soldiers attached to the international assistance force in the capital helped to carry out the work.

The rest of the museum remains in ruins, but its repair is a matter of national pride.

Omerakhan Massoudi, the museum's general director, said that staff training was another priority:

"We have lack of expertise because we have had 23 years of conflict, during which time technology has developed a lot and we have stayed far behind."

As well as the British, the Japanese have promised photographic equipment, the Greeks will rebuild one wing, the Asian Foundation will develop an inventory, and the Americans have pledged more money for a restoration department.

The United Nations cultural organisation, Unesco, will work on the windows and water supply.


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18 Feb 03 | South Asia
31 Dec 02 | South Asia
17 Dec 02 | South Asia
29 Jan 03 | Country profiles
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