According to UNESCO, 53 Ukrainian cultural sites have been damaged since the Russian invasion

By Deepa Shivaram | NPR
Saturday, April 2, 2022

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, UNESCO says it has seen damage to at least 53 cultural sites in the country.

The organization says it assesses damage reported in the media or by Ukrainian officials and has a system for monitoring major Ukrainian sites and monuments via satellite imagery.

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

As of March 30, according to UNESCO, the confirmed damaged sites, located in several regions of Ukraine, include 29 religious sites, 16 historical buildings, four museums and four monuments.

At the start of the war, UNESCO implemented emergency measures to best protect these cultural sites. He organized regular online meetings with World Heritage site managers, museum directors, national monument managers and local heritage protection associations in Ukraine to provide expertise and practical advice. UNESCO claims to have experts available 24/7 to respond to emergencies.

“We help them identify safe havens in which to store items that can be moved, and assess and reinforce firefighting procedures,” the spokesperson said.

The agency says it also contacted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to reiterate that heritage sites must be protected and sent him location data of heritage sites in Ukraine.

Russia and Ukraine signed a Hague Convention law in 1954 that protects cultural property during armed conflict. It prohibits and condemns all attacks and attacks on cultural heritage.

If cultural sites are marked with a blue shield — the emblem of the convention — it means that they are under the protection of the convention. If attacks are committed against these sites, says UNESCO, the perpetrators will be held responsible for acts constituting war crimes.

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