Alert issued over stolen Egyptian relics

Feb. 16, 2011 at 1:45 AM

PARIS, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- The United Nations has alerted art dealers, collectors and governments around the world to be on the lookout for items reported stolen from Egypt.

The U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, responsible for preserving world cultural heritages, said the relics and other artifact have been reported stolen from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and other sites in the country.

Egyptian authorities said items missing include a gilded wood statue of Pharaoh Tutankhamen being carried by a goddess. They said one of the museum's warehouses was broken into, U.N. News reported.

"It is particularly important to verify the origin of cultural property that might be imported, exported and/or offered for sale, especially on the Internet," said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova. "This heritage is part of humanity's history and Egypt's identity. It must not be allowed to vanish into unscrupulous hands, or run the risk of being damaged or even destroyed."

UNESCO plans to work closely with its international partners -- including INTERPOL, the World Customs Organization, the International Center for the Study and Restoration of Cultural Property and the International Council of Museums.

"But I would also call on security forces, customs agents, art dealers, collectors and local populations everywhere to do their utmost to recover these invaluable pieces and return them to their rightful home," Bokova said.

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