UNESCO wishes to express its deep concern about the reports on the expansion of the conflict to the city of Lalibela (Ethiopia), which hosts the Rock-Hewn Churches.

UNESCO calls 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, and by taking all necessary precautions to prevent any attempts of looting and pillaging cultural properties located in the area.

Lalibela is a place of pilgrimage, devotion and peace: it should not be a place for instigating violence and conflict. 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.