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UNESCO Mobilizes Int’l Support to Safeguard Yemen’s Culture Heritage

UNESCO Mobilizes Int’l Support to Safeguard Yemen’s Culture Heritage

Thursday, 13 August, 2020 - 04:30
Workers demolish a building damaged by rain in the UNESCO World Heritage site of the old city of Sanaa, Yemen August 9, 2020. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

Responding to the calls of the internationally-recognized government of Yemen, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced bringing together support from the Heritage Emergency Fund to protect Yemen’s three World Heritage sites of Zabid, Shibam, and Sanaa.

UNESCO voiced its regret at the loss of life and property in a number of historic centers in Yemen following exceptional extreme weather conditions in the country.

The weather conditions also threatened the survival of Yemen's unique cultural heritage, which is a testimony of human creativity and adaptability to the country's varied landscape and environmental conditions, according to UNESCO.

In a statement, the UN body said it was working with partners to intervene in Al-Qasimi area of the Old City of Sanaa and the Historic Town of Zabid to save 30 buildings from collapse.

Following the heavy flash floods of April 2020 in Sanaa, the second phase of intervention has been launched with technical studies of residential areas located mainly on the west bank of Al-Sailah, which will be followed with rehabilitation activities.

The resulting damage of the flash floods is endangering the lives of the inhabitants of historic centers, leaving some of them without adequate shelter and exacerbating the already-dire situation for many others.

UNESCO acknowledged the need for collective efforts to avoid further losses and implement risk mitigation mechanisms to ensure that the inhabitants of these historic centers can continue to live and conserve their heritage as they have done for centuries.

Along with its international partners, UNESCO has been mobilizing resources and expertise to safeguard Yemen's cultural heritage by implementing a number of projects with a focus on urban rehabilitation of private houses and capacity building for the local authorities.

The Yemeni historical centers of Aden, Sanaa, Shibam, and Zabid are benefitting from an ongoing cash-for-work project funded by the European Union and implemented in partnership with the Social Fund for Development (SFD) and specialized local authorities.

The project activities actively safeguard private houses and public spaces in the four cities and create income opportunities for 4,000 youth inhabitants, with more than 30 ongoing working sites in the Old City of Sanaa alone. The three-year project is continually adapting to the changing needs of the targeted cities.

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