Unesco late last week revealed that it is “deeply concerned” about the dire situation in which Ukraine cultural heritage sites find themselves as Russia continues its destructive and deadly attack on the country.
The agency is attempting to meet with leaders of the besieged country’s arts and cultural institutions to assess the damage to date across the organization’s “spheres of competence,” which include culture, heritage, education, and information. Further, Unesco will convene a special session on March 15 to investigate the impact of the war on those realms.
“We must safeguard this cultural heritage, as a testimony of 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 institutions must be considered sanctuaries,” said Unesco director general Audrey Azoulay in a statement.
Among the targets of Russian missiles thus far have been the Babyn Yar Holocaust memorial in Kyiv and a local history museum in Ivankiv housing dozens of works by Ukrainian folk artist Maria Prymachenk. Historic squares in Chernihiv and Kharkiv have been damaged in the battle. Worry is mounting regarding historic complexes in Lviv and Kyiv’s Cathedral of Saint Sophia, which stand near a series of structures likely to be bombed by Russian forces.
Unesco cited the March 1 shelling of Kyiv’s main television tower, which killed a media worker, as of special concern, pointing to a UN Security Council resolution stating that “media equipment and installations constitute civilian objects, and in this respect shall not be the object of attack or of reprisals, unless they are military objectives.”
The organization additionally noted acts of violence against journalists and Russia’s attempt to choke off Ukrainian citizens’ access to the internet.