New UNESCO World Heritage sites - and one deletion

Sunday, July 15, 2007

WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- UNESCO has added 22 new natural and cultural sites to its World Heritage list, but it also stripped a region from the list for the first time.

The U.N. culture committee, meeting in New Zealand in late June and early July, removed Oman's Arabian Oryx Sanctuary from the list. UNESCO said Oman was cutting the size of the sanctuary by 90 percent to prospect for oil, and that the oryx there -- a type of antelope -- had dwindled from 450 to 65 since 1994.

With Oman's deletion, there are now 851 sites on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Another action taken by the World Heritage committee was to change the name by which its list refers to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. Auschwitz will now be listed as "Auschwitz-Birkenau. German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp (1940-1945)." Poland, which was subjected to a brutal Nazi occupation, sought the name change to show that it did not establish or run the camp.

New sites added to the UNESCO list include the Sydney Opera House in Australia; Japan's Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine; the Parthian Fortresses of Nisa in Turkmenistan; and The Red Fort Complex in New Delhi, India -- a sprawling 17th-century red sandstone structure built by Mogul emperors.

Also added to the list were archaeological remains in the Iraqi city of Samarra, which were described as being "in danger" with no specific mention made of the war in Iraq. Samarra, considered a holy city by Shiite Muslims, is home to some of Iraq's richest cultural treasures including majestic ruins stretching along the eastern bank of the Tigris river and the 9th-century Great Mosque, with a 170-foot-tall spiral minaret.

Details at www.unesco.org.

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