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He denounced the pillaging as “a gross affront to humanity at large.”Restrictions on antiquity imports are usually painstakingly negotiated and require a petitioning nation to show proof of ongoing thefts, illegal excavations and illicit exports.
Care is taken not to disrupt any legal trade in a country’s cultural heritage objects, or to interfere with museum loans and educational exchanges.
In the case of Syria, for example, Congress voted to impose the restrictions in 2016 after terrorist groups were found to be profiteering from the country’s antiquities to pay for weapons and recruitment.
The Yemenis say they have strong evidence that their artifacts are being sold off by Houthi fighters and by terrorist groups like Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the Islamic State, which infiltrated the country during its current turmoil. Dammaj circulated a 290-page report in Arabic and English that details the looting at the Aden National Museum, the Taiz National Museum and the National Museum of Zinjibar.
In an effort to recover some of the items, Yemeni officials visited Washington and New York in recent days to ask the Trump administration and the United Nations to help them forestall the scattering of a heritage that stretches back nearly 4,000 years.
Their central request is that the United States issue an emergency order that would bar the import of Yemeni artifacts that did not carry special documentation.
“Everywhere in our country we see the same thing happening now.”Some four years into a civil war in which members of a Northern Yemeni faction known as Houthis have fought Saudi-backed Yemeni forces to a stalemate, the extent of the human suffering has drawn global attention.
Less noticed have been the cultural institutions and archaeological relics lost or ravaged during the conflict, including thousands of antiquities taken from Yemen’s museums.
State Department officials said the agency is studying the request.“It is important that we take steps now to prevent the further degradation of invaluable cultural property and heritage sites in Yemen,” the department said in a statement.When Jasmin didn’t show up to their English-language learners (ELL) class that Wednesday, Amal assumed she was sick.But a day soon became a week, which quickly turned into a month.Typically, antiquities from abroad cannot enter the country without documentation mandated in one-on-one agreements between the nation of origin and the United States.Because Yemen is not party to any such agreement, its artifacts simply need to be declared at customs in a routine way.