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Odessa now on UNESCO list of endangered world heritage

The old town of the Ukrainian port city of Odessa is now considered an endangered world heritage site. “Odessa, a free city, a cosmopolitan city with a famous port that shaped cinema, literature and the arts, is now under greater protection by the international community,” said UNESCO Secretary-General Audrey Azoulay today. Inclusion on the UNESCO List of World Heritage in Danger means better access to technical and financial support.

Sandbag barricades in Odessa

AP/Petros Giannakouris

Russia tried in vain to prevent the Ukrainian city on the Black Sea from being included on the World Heritage List. The Russian representative emphasized that the application for admission was copied from Wikipedia. In addition, Ukraine itself destroyed buildings in Odessa. The city has been bombed several times since the beginning of the Russian war of aggression, but has remained largely intact.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who requested the city’s listing in October to protect it from Russian attacks, welcomed the decision. “Today Odessa received protection from UNESCO,” he wrote on Twitter. “I am grateful to the partners who are helping to protect our pearl from attacks by Russian invaders,” he added. “A diplomatic victory,” emphasized Ukrainian politician Emine Djeppar.

UNESCO has included the city in an “emergency mechanism” in light of the ongoing war. In addition to the old city of Odessa, the Tripoli International Fair in Lebanon and the landmarks of the ancient kingdom of Sheba in Yemen have also been included on the list of World Heritage in Danger. There are currently 1,157 cultural and natural sites in 167 countries on the UNESCO World Heritage List. 55 of them are considered endangered.