UNESCO to consider adding Ukraine World Heritage sites to 'in danger' list

A panel of the UN cultural agency UNESCO is set to discuss whether to recognize two World Heritage sites in Ukraine as being "in danger" and requiring protection.

The preservation of Ukrainian cultural assets has become a pressing issue amid Russia's invasion of the country.

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee has been meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, since Sunday.

Starting on Thursday, the committee is scheduled to review the state of preservation of World Heritage sites across the globe.

One theme is whether to add the two Ukrainian sites to the List of World Heritage in Danger. Sites on the list are in urgent need of protection and rehabilitation.

One site is Kyiv's Saint-Sophia Cathedral and Related Monastic Buildings and the monastic complex of Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra. The other is the Ensemble of the Historic Centre in the western city of Lviv.

UNESCO said that as of September 6, a total of 287 cultural assets and sites in Ukraine had been damaged since the Russian invasion began in February 2022.

It said 120 of them were churches and other religious sites and 107 were historic buildings. They included 27 museums, 19 monuments and 13 libraries.

In the southern city of Odesa, a Russian missile attack hit a historic cathedral of the Orthodox Church in July. The Historic Centre of Odesa, where the cathedral is located, was put on the UNESCO World Heritage list and the list of sites in danger in January this year.

UNESCO said in a statement, "This outrageous destruction marks an escalation of violence against cultural heritage of Ukraine."

The committee is also set to discuss whether to put Venice and its Lagoon on the list of the World Heritage sites in danger.

The Italian city is said to have failed to take sufficient measures to curb the negative impact on its environment as the number of tourists has surged.