20 December 2011
As the altercations in Egypt endure, and following the recent damages suffered by the Institut d'Egypte in Cairo, the Blue Shield expresses its great concern regarding the safeguarding of the country's invaluable cultural heritage amidst the ongoing turmoil, and wishes to recall the importance of the Arab Republic of Egypt as repository of the world's collective memory. The recent events in Cairo have given reason for new alarm. The Blue Shield and the world heritage community bemoan the loss of lives that took place during the events and the damages the disaster has entailed.
The 12-hour fire, which broke out during clashes near the building on 17 December 2011, gravely endangered the manuscripts and other rare documents housed within. Out of a collection of about 200,000 manuscripts, journals and books, which date as far back as the 16th century, many documents - some of them considered very precious on a historical level - had been salvaged and can be restored.
The Institut d'Egypte was established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1798 and housed, among many other valuable documents, the records of Napoleon's 1798-1801 Egyptian Campaign. Amongst these, an original copy of the 20-volume Description de l'Egypte.
In keeping with its mandate to protect cultural heritage in times of conflict and political crisis, the Blue Shield wishes to support UNESCO's efforts to raise public awareness on the importance of the protection of heritage in general, and that of the Institut d'Egypte in particular: