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Yemen war threatens lives and history in Yemen

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The nearly 3-year-old Yemen war has killed more than 10,000 people, displaced 2 million and helped spawn a devastating cholera epidemic in the Arab world’s poorest country. The shocking report on its humanitarian crises goes hand in hand with the affection of Yemen’s culture and historical sites. UNESCO reports numerous example of this silent but still ongoing distraction.  For instance, the Awwam Temple, which links a region now on the front lines of the Saudi-led war against Houthi rebels to Arabia’s pre-Islamic past. Experts fear the temple, as well as other historic and cultural wonders across Yemen, beyond those acknowledged by international authorities, remains at risk as the country’s stalemated war rages on. Anna Paolini, the directorate of UNESCO’s regional office placed in Qatar and that oversees Yemen and Gulf Arab nations declares that “All the villages are historic in a way” and that “They’re still heritage of the country. It’s sad to see what’s happening”. ” Saudi-led air attacks have destroyed historic mud homes in Saada, the birthplace of the Houthi rebels. Air attacks have also hit the over 2,500-year-old Old City in Yemen’s rebel-held capital of Sanaa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its intricately decorated, burnt-brick towers. Shelling and air attacks have struck museums and other sites in the country. In 2015, air attacks damaged part of the Great Marib Dam, near the Awwam Temple and built by the same civilization, according to UNESCO. Just the shockwaves of an explosion in the distance can be enough to damage delicate structures. UNESCO has shared coordinates of some 50 historical sites with militaries involved in the fighting, to try to protect the sites, Paolini said, though many remain unguarded now in the chaos of the war.

 

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