Tuesday, 08 February 2011 16:34 Mohideen Mifthah .PARIS, Feb 8, 2011 (AFP) - World heritage body UNESCO is sending an urgent mission to examine a 1,000-year-old Hindu temple damaged in a deadly border dispute between Thailand and Cambodia, it said on Tuesday.
“I intend to send a mission to the area as soon as possible to assess the state of the temple,” on the UN culture body's list of protected world heritage since 2008, UNESCO's head Irina Bokova said in a statement.
Bokova's statement called for “calm and restraint” around the Preah Vihear temple, which it said had suffered “damage” during recent days of fighting.
Built on a cliff in the 11th century to honour the Hindu god Shiva, Preah Vihear is the most celebrated example of ancient Khmer architecture outside of Cambodia's renowned Angkor Wat.
A dispute over the patch of land on which it sits, claimed by both countries, erupted on Friday into violence that has left eight people dead and displaced thousands of families on both sides of the frontier.
“World Heritage sites are the heritage of all humanity and the international community has a special responsibility to safeguard them,” said the statement from the Paris-based UN cultural body.
“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.”