Unesco revealed late last week that it was “deeply concerned” about the dire situation in which Ukraine’s cultural heritage sites find themselves as Russia continues its destructive and murderous attack on the country. The agency is trying to meet with leaders of arts and cultural institutions in the beleaguered country to assess the damage to date in the organisation’s ‘spheres of competence’, which include culture, heritage, education and information. . In addition, Unesco will convene a special session on March 15 to study the impact of the war on these kingdoms.
“We must safeguard this cultural heritage, as a testimony to the past but also as a vector of peace for the future, which the international community has a duty to protect and preserve for future generations. It is also to protect the future that educational establishments must be considered as sanctuaries,” UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said in a statement.
So far, Russian missile targets have included the Babyn Yar Holocaust memorial in Kiev and a local history museum in Ivankiv housing dozens of works by Ukrainian folk artist Maria Prymachenk. The historic places of Chernihiv and Kharkiv were damaged in the battle. Concern is mounting over the historic complexes of Lviv and St. Sophia’s Cathedral in Kyiv, which stand near a series of structures that could be bombarded by Russian forces.
Unesco cited the March 1 bombing of Kyiv’s main television tower, which killed a media worker, as of particular concern, citing a UN Security Council resolution stating that “equipment and media installations constitute civilian objects and, in this respect, must not be the object of attack or reprisals, except in the case of military objectives”. The organization also noted acts of violence against journalists and Russia’s attempt to stifle Ukrainian citizens’ access to the Internet.