PARIS (TUSEN) — The United Nations Cultural Agency on Wednesday decided to add the historic center of Odessa, Ukraine’s Black Sea port city, to its list of endangered World Heritage Sites.
The decision was made at an extraordinary session of the World Heritage Committee in Paris.
UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay praised the move, saying the “legendary port that has left its mark on film, literature and art” is now placed under the enhanced protection of the international community.
“As the war is still ongoing, this inscription shows our collective determination to ensure that this city … is protected from further destruction,” she added, according to a UNESCO statement.
The city has been the victim of artillery and air strikes by Russian forces several times since the start of the war last year.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on UNESCO in October to grant Odessa World Heritage status, and the UN body agreed on Wednesday while adding it directly to the endangered list.
Under the 1972 UNESCO Convention, ratified by both Ukraine and Russia, signatories commit to “assisting in the protection of the listed sites” and are “obliged to refrain from taking any deliberate action” that could damage World Heritage Sites .
Inclusion on the World Heritage in Danger list is intended to “provide open access to international relief mechanisms, both technical and financial, to strengthen property protection and aid its restoration,” according to UNESCO.
Ukraine is home to seven World Heritage Sites, including St. Sophia Cathedral and related monastic buildings in the capital, Kiev.
To date, none of the six cultural sites have been damaged by the war — the seventh site is ancient and primeval beech forests, according to UNESCO. Some damage was noted to more than 230 cultural buildings in the country, it added.
On its website, UNESCO describes Odessa as the only city in Ukraine to fully preserve the urban structure of a multinational southern port city typical of the late 18th-19th centuries.
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