Paris, Jan 25 (EFE).- The historic center of the Ukrainian port city of Odesa has been added to Unesco’s list of World Heritage sites that are in danger, the UN said Wednesday, granting it special additional protection from the international community.
“Odesa, a free city, a world city, a legendary port that has left its mark on cinema, literature, and the arts, is thus placed under the reinforced protection of the international community,” said Unesco’s director general Audrey Azoulay in a statement.
The Rachid Karami International Fair in Lebanon, designed by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, and the main monuments of the ancient kingdom of Saba in Yemen were also added to the list.
The decision was taken at an extraordinary session of the UN body’s committee in Paris under an emergency procedure to protect places of exceptional interest that are considered under threat.
Odesa’s inscription came some hours after the other two candidates were approved, following an intense debate, with Russia, strongly opposed to the proposal, trying to block it with various motions.
Of the 21 members of the committee, only Russia voted against enlisting Ukraine’s port city arguing the proposal lacked objectivity and scientific rigor.
Rachid Karameh International Fair’s candidacy was examined under the emergency procedure due to its alarming state of conservation, the lack of maintenance resources, and the latent risk of development projects that could damage the integrity of the complex.
The building, located in the Lebanese city of Tripoli, was the flagship project of the modernization policy undertaken by the country in the 1960s.
As for the ancient kingdom of Saba, registration under the emergency procedure was due to threats of destruction related to the ongoing conflict in Yemen.
It comprises seven archaeological sites that attest to the architectural, aesthetic, and technological achievements from the first millennium BCE to the arrival of Islam, around 630 CE.
The list of World Heritage in Danger includes cultural sites that are considered to be threatened by serious risks, such as accelerated deterioration, natural disasters, armed conflicts, abandonment, or major urban development projects, among others.
The emergency inscription enables the UN to allocate assistance to the threatened site from the World Heritage Fund.
In legal terms, it implies the establishment of an extended protection zone under the 1972 Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, to which both Ukraine and Russia have agreed to comply.
Odesa’s enlistment is part of Unesco’s action plan in Ukraine, which according to the statement, “has already mobilized more than $18 million for education, science, culture and information.”EFE ngp/aef/ks