February 1, 2023

Historic Ukraine city added to UNESCO ‘in danger’ list

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The historic center of the Ukrainian port city of Odessa and sites in Yemen and Lebanon were added to the World Heritage List by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on Wednesday.

All three sites were simultaneously included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

UNESCO’s founding convention obliges all members – including Russia and Ukraine – “not to take any deliberate action which would cause direct or indirect damage to their heritage or that of any other State party to the Convention.”

Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO’s director-general, said in a statement that she hoped the listing would help save Odesa from war.

“Odessa, a free city, a cosmopolitan city, a legendary port that has left its mark on cinema, literature and the arts, is thus placed under the strong protection of the international community,” Azoulay said.

“As long as the war continues, this inscription embodies our collective determination to ensure that this city, which has always weathered world revolutions, is protected from further destruction.”

The decision will give Ukraine access to “technical and financial international assistance” to protect and restore the city center, the statement said.

The inscription was made during an extraordinary meeting of the World Heritage Committee in Paris.

The meeting addressed three endangered sites:

Historic Center of Odessa (Ukraine)
Rachid Karami International Fair-Tripoli (Lebanon)
Traces of the Ancient Kingdom of Saba in Marib Governorate (Yemen).

All three are now inscribed on both the World Heritage List and the List of World Heritage in Danger.

The ruins of the Baran Temple are one of seven archaeological sites that mark the ancient Kingdom of Saba in Yemen.

In Yemen, the site includes seven archaeological sites that demonstrate the architectural, aesthetic and technological achievements of the Kingdom of Saba from the 1st millennium BC to the arrival of Islam around 630 AD.

The site was listed as “at risk” due to threats to the site from the ongoing conflict in Yemen.

The site in Lebanon, the Rachid Karami International Fair in Tripoli, was designed by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer in 1962. Its main building is a boomerang-shaped covered exhibition hall.

The Rachid Karami International Fair in Tripoli, Lebanon was designed by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer.

“It is one of the most important representative works of 20th-century modern architecture in the Arab Near East,” UNESCO said in a news release.

UNESCO said it was listed in danger because of “the critical state of preservation, the lack of financial resources for its upkeep, and the hidden risk of development proposals that could affect the integrity of the complex”.

Image above: The historic center of Odessa, Ukraine is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (bergamont/iStockphoto/Getty Images)

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