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UNESCO: At least 53 historical sites have been damaged in Russian invasion of Ukraine

UNESCO has confirmed that at least 53 cultural sites have been damaged during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Some of the devastation in Chernihiv. The historic centre of the northern city is on the Tentative List, meaning that Ukraine wants it considered for World Heritage status. — © AFP
Some of the devastation in Chernihiv. The historic centre of the northern city is on the Tentative List, meaning that Ukraine wants it considered for World Heritage status. — © AFP

UNESCO, the UN’s cultural agency has confirmed that at least 53 historical sites, religious buildings, and museums have sustained damage during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The agency says it assesses damage to cultural sites using eyewitnesses, media reports, and reports from Ukrainian authorities and also has a system to monitor main Ukrainian sites and monuments via satellite imagery.

“Our experts continue to verify each report and it is feared that other sites will be added to this list,” a UNESCO spokesperson told NPR.org.

As of March 30, UNESCO has confirmed damaged cultural sites, located in several regions across Ukraine, that include 29 religious sites, 16 historic buildings, four museums, and four monuments.

The list does not include information from the besieged city of Mariupol or the city of Kherson, which has been captured by Russia.

“This is the latest list, but it is not exhaustive, as our experts are continuing to verify a number of reports” filed by Ukrainian authorities, a Unesco spokesperson told AFP, according to The Guardian, as the body published a list of the 53 damaged sites in the north and east of the country.

UNESCO’s director-general, Audrey Azoulay, reminded the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, of Russia’s obligations to protect cultural heritage during conflict under an international convention. “Any violation of these norms will see the perpetrators brought to international responsibility,” Audrey Azoulay wrote to Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, per the Guardian.

Ukraine’s Cultural Ministry also weighed in on the damages to cultural sites on Friday. According to the Interfax-Ukraine news agency, the ministry has recorded 135 instances of Russian troops committing crimes against Ukraine’s cultural heritage since the war started.

The ministry said the crimes included destroying a local history museum in the Kyiv region, bombing a theatre in Mariupol, a southern port city besieged by Moscow for nearly a month, and damaging a Holocaust memorial in Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine.

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We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of our dear friend Karen Graham, who served as Editor-at-Large at Digital Journal. She was 78 years old. Karen's view of what is happening in our world was colored by her love of history and how the past influences events taking place today. Her belief in humankind's part in the care of the planet and our environment has led her to focus on the need for action in dealing with climate change. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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