The renovation of Shibam, a UNESCO Heritage city in Yemen, begins

The renovation of Shibam, a UNESCO Heritage city in Yemen, begins

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Local authorities in Hadramout province in southeastern Yemen have announced the start of a program to renovate dozens of ruined houses in the historic city of Shibam, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1982.

The program is funded by the EU through UNESCO and the Yemen Social Fund for Development.

The first phase costs $ 509,000 and focuses on adobe houses that have not been renovated in the last five yearsexplained Hasan Ayded, director of the Shibam office of the General Organization for the Preservation of Historic Cities in Yemen, a government body.

"The priority is for the houses that have been hard hit by rains and explosions, and those facing the main square of the city," Ayded told Arab News.

Shibam, known for its ancient and imposing adobe houses, has been deprived of vital maintenance since late 2014, when international preservation experts fled the city after the capture of Yemen's capital, Sanaa, by the Houthis and their subsequent military expansion.

To make matters worse the heavy rains that hit Shibam in July this year, have put dozens of adobe houses at risk of collapse.

Ayded said that a government committee assigned by local authorities to assess the extent of the damage in Shibam found that nearly half of its 500 houses need urgent attention.

"If we don't intervene now, the problem will be bigger and will require more funds," he said, adding that his office urgently needs $ 100,000 to renovate 40 dilapidated houses in the second phase of the program. He urged local authorities, aid organizations and UNESCO to mobilize funds.

“Humanitarian assistance should not be limited to food baskets. Saving a house in Shibam and keeping a family inside is also humanitarian aid, ”he said.

Local officials are also calling for studies on how to help Yemen's UNESCO World Heritage sites adapt to unprecedented climate change and extreme weather.

In Sanaacontrolled by the Houthis, the houses in the Old Town, another UNESCO World Heritage site, have been collapsing since the beginning of August due to heavy rains and torrential flooding.

UNESCO said in a statement: “Together with its international partners, UNESCO has been mobilizing resources and expertise to safeguard Yemen's cultural heritage through the implementation of a series of projects focused on the urban rehabilitation of private houses and capacity development. for local authorities'.

Cover image: Depositphotos.

Video: World Heritage Sites in Yemen as 2020