SISAKET, THAILAND:The United Nations cultural agency UNESCO on Tuesday said it plans to send a mission to assess the damage caused to the Preah Vihear Temple, a World Heritage site, by the recent armed clashes between Thailand and Cambodia.
Tensions first escalated between the South-East Asian neighbours in July 2008 following the build-up of military forces near the temple, which dates back to the 11th century and is located on the Cambodian side of the border.
The temple was inscribed on the World Heritage List of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) earlier that month.
There have been renewed armed clashes between the two countries in recent days, prompting calls for restraint by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. At least six people were killed.
"I intend to send a mission to the area as soon as possible to assess the state of the temple," UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said. "World Heritage sites are the heritage of all humanity and the international community has a special responsibility to safeguard them. This requires a collective effort that must be undertaken in a spirit of consultation and dialogue. Heritage should unite people and serve as an instrument of dialogue and mutual understanding and not of conflict."
The Temple of Preah Vihear, dedicated to Shiva, is composed of a series of sanctuaries linked by a system of pavements and staircases over an 800-metre-long axis; it dates back to the first half of the 11th century AD. The site is exceptional for the quality of its carved stone ornamentation and its architecture, adapted to the natural environment and the religious function of the temple.
(BNO NEWS )