Through cultural heritage and cultural landscapes, history and culture become visible and tangible. Thus, they are important for the coherence and identity of a population. During situations of war and conflict, the importance of such values increase. There are numerous examples, historic and modern, of cultural heritage becoming targets for strategic warfare systematic acts of terror. In our current age, this has been especially evident in ethnically and religiously motivated conflicts. Among the most dramatic and spectacular examples of systematic destruction of cultural heritage in recent times, was when the Taliban blew up the Buddha statues in Bamiyan, Afghanistan, and also the destruction of the bridge in the historic town of Mostar in the former Yugoslavia. Footage of these sad events kept running on television screens the world over. But mostly, such destruction is only reported and discussed in low-key, academic texts with limited audiences. Thus, heritage destruction during conflicts tends to remain unknown to the general public. In modern communication, visuals have the impact to break through. We have chosen to use photo-documentation documentation as a means to focus on the direct and indirect effects of war upon cultural heritage, in order to highlight the urgent, humanitarian dimension of the situation.

Norway intends to strengthen the humanitarian, capacity-building efforts in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is a veritable treasure chamber of global heritage, with cultural heritage of Persian, Central Asian, Buddhist and Hellenistic origins, amongst others. These have been exposed to a near-permanent state of war since the Soviet invasion in 1979. The cultural heritage in Afghanistan is therefore extremely vulnerable, under-communicated and inaccessible. At the same time, a heroic effort is being undertaken, both nationally and internationally, to preserve what can be preserved of Afghanistan's cultural resources for posterity. In addition to documenting damages and the reconstruction of cultural heritage and cultural settings in Afghanistan, we intend this project as a positive contribution towards the Norwegian humanitarian efforts in Afghanistan generally, and towards the reestablishment of Afghan cultural management specially.

"A well-functioning national management of cultural heritage is a crucial element of rebuilding the Afghan national state".
Deputy Minister Omar Sultan, Afghan Ministry of Culture, Information and Tourism.

The project is funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs