The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has added the Ukrainian city of Odesa to its list of protected World Heritage sites amid the war with Russia. Photo courtesy of GN Consulting Agency/UNESCO
Feb. 2 (UPI) -- UNESCO has added the Ukrainian city of Odesa to its list of protected World Heritage sites amid the war with Russia.
The World Heritage Committee decided on Jan. 25 to add the historic center of the city to its World Heritage List, which are sites designated for protection by the United Nations for a variety of criteria.
Odesa, which has been heavily shelled by Russian forces, was selected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization for protection for criteria including as "an important interchange of human values" and for having "outstanding" examples of architecture that illustrate significant stages in human history
"Odesa, a free city, a world city, a legendary port that has left its mark on cinema, literature and the arts, is thus placed under the reinforced protection of the international community," UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said in a statement.
"While the war continues, this inscription embodies our collective determination to ensure that this city, which has always surmounted global upheavals, is preserved from further destruction."
UNESCO also added Odesa to its list of such World Heritage sites that are in danger, which allows for "reinforced technical and financial international assistance" that Ukraine may request to ensure the protection of the city and its rehabilitation in the aftermath of the war.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky officially submitted the city for consideration in October 2022 in an online speech to UNESCO, which evaluated the merits of the nomination over the following weeks.
"In recent months, in parallel with the process of inscribing the Historic Centre of Odesa on the World Heritage List, UNESCO implemented emergency measures on the ground to help protect the site," the organization said in a statement.
"UNESCO has notably ensured the repairs to damages inflicted on the Odesa Museum of Fine Arts and the Odesa Museum of Modern Art since the beginning of the war."
Officials with UNESCO said last March, just weeks after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine, that officials were "deeply concerned" for the survival of historical sites in the country.
Ukraine is home to several sites listed for protection and preservation because of their global significance, including seven other World Heritage sites.
Such sites include a large area in the city of Lviv in western Ukraine, which was founded in the Middle Ages. That site, called the Ensemble of the Historic Center, consists of the Lviv High Castle and its surrounding area as well as St. Yuri's Cathedral.
The Saint-Sophia Cathedral, another protected UNESCO site, is located in the capital city Kyiv which has undergone constant shelling from Russian forces at the start of the war.