Areiji, Marotti and Maj. Massimo Maresco, from the Cultural Heritage Protection Unit, attend the news conference at the Italian Embassy in Baabda Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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Lebanon's liquid borders have made it a transit route for the smuggling of stolen antiquities – a business that threatens to wipe out much of the region's most cherished history – experts said Tuesday during a workshop to address the issue at the Italian embassy. Nadine Najem, a judge who attended the meeting on behalf of Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi, said that there were few legal or security mechanisms to properly tackle the problem. Co-funded by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, as well as the European Union, the workshop brought together security and antiquities experts from Italy and Lebanon to discuss strategies to combat the illicit market of cultural artifacts. According to Dr. Assaad Saif, a Lebanese archaeologist who spoke at the workshop, despite many challenges Lebanese authorities manage to confiscate about 40 to 50 cultural artifacts each year, most of which belong to Syria, Iraq and Yemen.Saif said that the artifacts confiscated by Lebanese authorities can be sold for anywhere between $100 and $200,000 .
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