UNESCO is deeply dismayed and condemns in the strongest terms the brazen attack carried out by the Russian forces, which hit several cultural sites in the city center of Odesa, home to the World Heritage property ‘The Historic Centre of Odesa’.
The attack took the lives of at least two people, according to preliminary reports, and damaged a number of significant cultural sites, including the Transfiguration Cathedral, the first and foremost Orthodox church in Odesa founded in 1794. This act of hostility comes only days after other attacks that impacted many cultural heritage sites in areas protected under the World Heritage Convention in Lviv and Odesa.
The Director-General of UNESCO visited Odesa on April 4, 2023 to meet with World Heritage site managers and stakeholders from the cultural sector. She took stock of the emergency actions undertaken by UNESCO to protect this exceptional heritage threatened by war.
UNESCO will continue to engage with the World Heritage site managers, local and national authorities to identify urgent needs for assistance. In the coming days, UNESCO will field a mission to Odesa to conduct a preliminary assessment of damages.
These attacks contradict recent statements by the authorities of Russia concerning the precautions taken to spare World Heritage sites in Ukraine including their buffer zones.
Intentional destruction of cultural sites may amount to a war crime, as acknowledged also by the United Nations Security Council - of which the Russian Federation is a permanent member - in Resolution 2347 (2017).
Image : © GN Consulting Agency
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