Press Release

Protecting cultural heritage after the earthquakes in Türkiye

11 April 2023

Caption: Hatay Museum
Photo: © UNDP/Bora Akbay
  • UNDP sends containers to archeology museums to safeguard the region’s priceless artifacts

Ankara, 11 April 2023 – In an effort to protect the irreplaceable cultural heritage of the earthquake-affected regions of Türkiye, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has delivered a first shipment of 20 containers to archeology museums in Hatay and Kahramanmaraş. The delivery is the beginning of a wider effort to support the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in protecting damaged artifacts ahead of full restoration.

Eighteen containers were delivered to the Hatay Archeology Museum and two containers were supplied to the Kahramanmaraş Archeology Museum on 6 April 2023. The containers will be used to safeguard priceless treasures from the collections of the two museums until preservation experts can restore damaged or destroyed landmarks and ultimately rehouse artifacts and artwork for public viewing. 

The deliveries took place two months after two major earthquakes caused the deaths of at least 50,000 persons, displaced more than 3.3 million people, and caused an estimated $103.6 billion in damages.

“These containers are just the beginning,” said UNDP Resident Representative Louisa Vinton. “UNDP is currently seeking funding to support a broader effort to rebuild thousands of damaged cultural heritage monuments, in all their splendid diversity. This is not just about physical objects, as crucial as they are to historical memory; it is also a contribution to reviving the region’s unique identity and human spirit.”

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism lists 8,444 historical structures of cultural heritage across the 11 provinces struck most severely by the earthquakes. More than 60 percent of the 2,863 structures that heritage experts were able to inspect suffered some level of damage, according to the Türkiye Earthquakes Recovery and Reconstruction Assessment (TERRA) conducted by the Government with support from the UN, the EU and the World Bank.

“With so much of Antakya still in ruins, we need to protect and restore what we can of the enduring symbols of our city,” said Turkish actor and UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Mert Firat. Firat’s family comes from Antakya, and, as a founder of the Needs Map civic organization, he has been active in the earthquake response from the first day.

The history of Antakya dates back to the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods, and the artifacts in the museum shed light on the history of the region. The priceless treasures in the Hatay Archeology Museum include a monumental two-ton statue of Hittite King Suppiluliuma, who ruled 3,000 years ago; a rich collection of Roman and Byzantine mosaics; and the Antakya Sarcophagus, a majestic marble tomb from the third century BC.

In addition to the containers, UNDP will also be supplying handheld radios, drones and tablets, which are needed to assess damage to artifacts, map damaged areas, take photographs for documentation and ensure the security of the artifacts while damage assessment studies continue in cultural assets and museums over the coming weeks.

UNDP has already supplied 25 containers to the Hatay firefighting unit as a temporary replacement for the building in Antakya that housed the fire department and all its trucks; it collapsed completely during the earthquakes.

These are just a few of UNDP’s contributions to “early recovery” efforts in the earthquake-affected areas. UNDP is also supplying waste management equipment, tools and commodities to help manage earthquake debris in a way that protects public health and the environment; establishing mobile day-care centers for the elderly and persons with disabilities; working with women’s cooperatives to set up mobile kitchens supplied with local farm products; and supporting efforts to scale up vocational training for earthquake survivors displaced to other regions.

For more on UNDP’s priorities in earthquake recovery and reconstruction, see:

For photos please click here.

For more information:

Bahar Paykoç, Communications Associate for UNDP in Türkiye,


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