Sunday afternoon, members of the Taliban ended their conquest of retaking Afghanistan by walking into the Presidential Palace, where President Ashraf Ghani was no where to be found. His absence follows a mass panic that has befallen the country as the US-backed Afghani army stood no chance against the merely 60,000 tribal forces of the Taliban, who over the course of the past four months, slowly advanced from one major city to the next.
Amidst the chaos, many of the nation’s museums are scrambling to retrieve priceless artifacts, which they fear will be seized and subsequently destroyed by Taliban forces. “We have great concerns for the safety of our staff and collections,” said the Director of the Afghan National Museum, Mohammad Fahim Rahimi in a past statement. A collection of nearly 800,000 artifacts, along with the many cultural items and Buddhist monasteries located around the country. Going back to 2001, the year that triggered tensions between the country and the West, the Taliban demolished two mountainside statues, called the Buddha of Bumiyan, which dated back to the 6th Century.
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Videos and images have flooded the internet showing Afghani’s desperately fleeing the country. One such is a shocking reel right outside the airport, where civilians rushed a US Air Force plane trying to leave the tarmac.
Insofar, there have been no reported damages to any cultural items, but similar to the Taliban’s retaking of the country, only time will show their intentions as the world watches from a distance.
Also in the news, New York will require proof of vaccinations to enter many of its cultural institutions.
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