55 world heritage sites in danger
Fifty-five out of a total of 1,052 heritage sites around the world feature on the UN cultural organisation’s World Heritage in Danger list. By listing such sites, UNESCO is seeking to mobilize the international community to protect them. During its 40th session in July, 2016, in Istanbul, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee added sites in Mali and Uzbekistan to the list, along with Libya’s five world heritage sites which have already been damaged by conflict in the North African country.
Conflict, earthquakes and other natural disasters, pollution, poaching, uncontrolled urbanization and unchecked tourism development pose major problems to world heritage sites, UNESCO says. It lists two categories of dangers: either “ascertained”-specific and proven imminent threats-or “potential”, when property faces threats which could negatively affect its world heritage value.
Adding a site to the list allows the allocation of immediate World Heritage Fund assistance to the endangered property. It also alerts the international community to these situations in the hope that it will join efforts to save the endangered sites, and allows conservation specialists to respond efficiently to specific needs.
Some endangered sites
Afghanistan: archaeological remains of Jam (2002) and the Bamiyan Valley (2003). Iraq: Ashur (2003), Hatra (2015) and Samarra Archaeological City (2007). Jerusalem: Old City and its walls (1982). Mali: Tomb of Askia (2012), Timbuktu (2012), Old Towns of Djenne (2016).
Niger: Air and Tenere natural reserves (1992).
Syria: Ancient cities of Aleppo (2013), Bosra (2013) and Damascus (2013), ancient villages of northern Syria (2013), Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah ElDin (2013), Palmyra (2013).
Yemen: Historic town of Zabid (2000), old city of Sanaa (2015), old walled city of Shibam (2015).
Numerous national parks are also listed, including in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and Senegal. The Everglades National Park in the US state of Florida was listed in 2010.