ADDIS ABABA – The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said it is seriously concerned about the protection of the World Heritage site of the Rock-Hewn Churches in Ethiopia’s Lalibela city.
The UN agency expressed its concerns days after reports claimed fighters of the TPLF, a group designated as a terrorist entity by the Ethiopian parliament, seized control of Lalibela city, which hosts the UN World Heritage Site.
“UNESCO wishes to express its deep concern about the reports on the expansion of the conflict to the city of Lalibela,” the agency said in a statement issued late Friday.
UNESCO has also called for the “respect of all relevant obligations under international law in ensuring the protection of the Outstanding Universal Value and legacy of this precious site by refraining from any act that may expose it to damage”.
“Lalibela is a place of pilgrimage, devotion and peace: it should not be a place for instigating violence and conflict,” the UN agency added.
The government of Ethiopia, which declared a unilateral ceasefire, said people are concerned about the possible destruction of religious and other institutions by the TPLF due to the recent attacks by the force in some areas in the Amhara Region.
“The Government will take all the necessary measures to ensure that these sacred places and other institutions are well protected and call on the international community to condemn this heinous act of the TPLF,” reads the statement issued by Ethiopian Foreign ministry.
The 11 medieval monolithic cave churches of this 13th-century ‘New Jerusalem’ are located in a mountainous region in the heart of Ethiopia near a traditional village with circular-shaped dwellings.
Lalibela Rock-Hewn Churches is a high place of Ethiopian Christianity. Lalibela Rock-Hewn Churches was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1978.
Featured Image: Rock-Hewn Churches are located in Lalibela city of Ethiopia [Photo © Shutterstock / Vegetation7]