UNESCO sounds alarm stating Odesa a 'World Heritage in Danger' site

© Oleksandr Gimanov, AFP

The United Nations cultural agency UNESCO said on Wednesday that it had designated the historic centre of Odesa, a strategic port city on Ukraine's Black Sea coast, a World Heritage in Danger site.

The status, awarded by a UNESCO panel meeting in Paris, is designed to help protect Odesa’s cultural heritage, which has been under threat since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and enable access to financial and technical international aid.

Odesa has been bombed several times by Russia since its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022.

In July 2022, part of the large glass roof and windows of Odesa’s Museum of Fine Arts, inaugurated in 1899, were destroyed.

In a statement UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay said that Odesa, "free city, world city, legendary port" had made its mark on cinema, literature and the arts and was thus "placed under the strengthened protection of the international community." The city has frequestly been described as the 'pearl of the Black Sea"

"As the war continues, this inscription reflects our collective determination to protect this city from greater destruction," Azoulay said in a statement.

The First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska has been campaigning hard for this decision, saying back in September, "I also hope that our friends in the EU will contribute to an important step: adding the historic center of Odessa to the UNESCO World Heritage List .... Our cities and our people deserve worldwide recognition."

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