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Old City of Sana'a

Yemen
Factors affecting the property in 2019*
  • Civil unrest
  • Desertification
  • Housing
  • Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community
  • Land conversion
  • Management activities
  • War
  • Other Threats:

    Functional decay of the residential neighborhoods; Physical damage and instability of buildings; Problems with the network for the evacuation of rainwater

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Modern constructions and uncontrolled expansion of commercial activities (issue resolved)
  • Lack of a Safeguarding Plan (issue resolved)
  • Fly-over bridge project (issue resolved)
  • Uncontrolled vertical and horizontal additions
  • Management activities (Use of inappropriate building materials and techniques)
  • Densification of the historic fabric through occupation of green areas
  • Functional decay of the residential neighbourhoods
  • Continuing vulnerability of the property, as a result of extreme conditions since 2011
  • Threats arising from the armed conflict in Yemen
  • Physical damage and instability of buildings
  • Urgent need for shelter for displaced residents
  • Desertification of green areas and public gardens/orchards
  • Problems with the network for the evacuation of rainwater
Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger

Damages and threats related to the armed conflict in Yemen

Corrective Measures for the property

Not yet identified

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

Not yet identified

UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2019

Total amount granted: 1988: USD 374,800, UNDP/UNESCO project in support of local staff training and fund-raising. 2004-2006: USD 60,000 for the Inventory of the historic city (Italian Funds-in-Trust); USD 12,000 for technical assistance in support of the reconstruction of the al-Qasimi neighborhood (Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage (ARC-WH)
Total amount granted to Yemeni cultural properties: USD 194,836 from the European Union for damage assessments, capacity development and emergency stabilization of damaged buildings and protection of archaeological sites. Total amount of USD 35,000 from UNESCO Regular Programme for the Sustainable Management of Tangible Heritage in the GCC and Yemen. USD 12,000,000 from the European Union for the project: Cash for Work: Promoting Livelihood Opportunities for Urban Youth in Yemen (Shibam, Sana’a, Zabid and Aden)

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2019
Requests approved: 6 (from 1990-2014)
Total amount approved : 101,997 USD
Missions to the property until 2019**

1998, 1999, 2003: World Heritage Centre monitoring missions; 2003 to 2005 and 2010: World Heritage Centre and experts missions

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2019

On 21 March 2019, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation, which is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/385/documents/, and presents the following progress:

  • The armed conflict in Yemen continues to threaten the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property and to cause economic and social impact. Although the frequency of air strikes has decreased, the Al-Qassimi, Alfolihi, Madrassa, Al-Bakiria and Bahr Rajraj neighbourhoods remain affected;
  • There is little available support or funding to carry out maintenance and conservation actions, nor to establish and implement corrective measures aimed at removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger. Repairs have been carried out in Al-Qasimi, but other areas remain unstable, with buildings in danger of collapse and residents being displaced. The resulting economic and social pressure has resulted in building violations, which are being addressed through demolition orders and education;
  • Through the Ministry of Culture, the State Party has supported and involved community and government organizations, including the Tourism Promotion Board and Education Office in campaigns to raise awareness of the importance of cultural heritage. The Ministry of Culture has contributed to the restoration of damaged monuments and buildings through the Heritage and Cultural Development Fund;
  • UNESCO and the World Heritage Centre have funded a damage inventory and assessment, undertaken by the Centre for Architectural Training and Studies, in addition to supporting capacity building;
  • The review of a heritage protection bylaw will be submitted to the Prime Minister for adoption;
  • The High Committee for Old City of Sana’a Protection has been reactivated to raise awareness, seek funds, encourage community participation and monitoring, and safeguard the property. The first national symposium for the preservation of Sana’a heritage took place in July 2018, focusing on sustainable protection and conservation of the old city, on support for the General Organization for the Preservation of Historic Cities in Yemen (GOPHCY) and on building a common vision for strategies needed to prevent the destruction of Yemeni heritage through cooperation between civil society and the government;
  • The State Party requires assistance in ensuring the protection of its heritage, as well as support for institutional and legislative preservation processes, such as guidelines for restoration, construction and rehabilitation, documentation of buildings and spaces, the preparation of the initial phase of a Conservation and Development Plan, and the preparation of a Management Plan for the property.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2019

The security situation in Yemen, in combination with a lack of organizational support and resources, continues to obstruct both effective heritage management and physical conservation works within the property. However, the efforts of the State Party and other international actors, including the World Heritage Centre and Advisory Bodies, to provide training, and technical guidelines are commended. These efforts are contributing to the assessment and restoration of damaged monuments and buildings, as well as to the broader objectives of providing shelter. The State Party and its agencies have undertaken work on inventories, evaluation of damage, and repair and conservation works (although details are lacking). It is positive that there are a range of training and community awareness programmes, despite the challenging circumstances. Nevertheless, damages to the historic fabric and the ongoing displacement of residents create a dire situation within the property.

The property continues to require reconstruction plans that reconcile the provision of housing and services with the need to restore damaged precincts and buildings, based on survey and documentation, and by using traditional techniques and materials. Unregulated new constructions and inadequate restorations incrementally affect the OUV of the property. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to continue to consult the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to ensure that works at the property meet basic technical requirements.

The implementation of the European Union funded project Cash for Work: Promoting Livelihood Opportunities for Urban Youth in Yemen began in 2019 through UNESCO Office in Doha, and is expected to continue until 2021. The project will contribute to promoting livelihood opportunities for youth through urban regeneration activities. It comprises the restoration of particular buildings in the World Heritage Properties of Sana’a, Shibam and Zabid that have been damaged during the ongoing conflict. The project will also contribute to social cohesion and peace-building through targeted cultural programming and support for the civil society. This project is very welcome, while recognising that qualified professionals would be needed for the rehabilitation of buildings.

The reactivation of the High Committee for Old City of Sana’a Protection is a positive step, as is the national symposium for the preservation of Sana’a heritage and the resulting re-enforcement of GOPHCY’s important role in conservation, training, and communication with UNESCO and the Advisory Bodies. However, such exchanges of information need to be backed-up by resources that allow the implementation of physical conservation actions.

In the framework of the Third Cycle of the Periodic Reporting for the Arab States region, information was provided on the issue of desertification owing to the lack of maintenance and water shortage. Buildings were damaged by heavy rains, while problems with the city’s collapsed rainwater collection system require urgent attention. Urban pressure has increased in the buffer zone, with constructions that do not respect the original materials and construction techniques. Construction permits should pass through GOPHCY in order to guarantee compliance with regulations.

Owing to the prevailing security conditions, it remains challenging for the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to provide support to the State Party on first-aid measures and in restoration/reconstruction of damaged structures. Currently, it is not possible to arrange the previously-proposed joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission, which would aim at assisting the State Party in developing corrective measures and a timeframe for their implementation, as well as the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR).

The Committee might wish to urge again all parties involved in the conflict to refrain from any further action that would cause damage to the cultural heritage of Yemen and the OUV of the property, and to fulfil their obligations under international law by taking all possible measures to protect such heritage.

Support from the international community remains essential for building capacities in adequate preventive and conservation measures at the property. There is no reported progress in finalizing the draft National Strategy for the Preservation of the Historic Cities, Sites and Monuments 2016 – 2020, nor in the implementation of the Emergency Action Plan for the Safeguarding of Yemen’s Cultural Heritage, adopted at the UNESCO expert meeting in July 2015. Financial and technical support is necessarily constrained until the security situation improves. However, it might be appropriate for the international community to continue to express its support and, where possible, to offer technical assistance.

Considering the above-mentioned information, it is recommended that the Committee retain the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2019
43 COM 7A.39
Old City of Sana’a (Yemen) (C 385)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add.2,
  2. Recalling Decision 42 COM 7A.38, adopted at its 42nd session (Manama, 2018),
  3. Commends the State Party and its agencies, including the General Organization for the Preservation of Historic Cities in Yemen (GOPHCY) on initiatives undertaken in capacity building, damage assessment, documentation and emergency interventions at the property, and requests that they continue to consult with UNESCO and the Advisory Bodies, and to restore damaged buildings, based on surveys and documentation, using traditional construction techniques and materials as much as possible, to avoid incrementally affecting the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property;
  4. Also commends the State Party and its agencies on initiatives undertaken to support and involve community and government organizations, and in campaigns to raise awareness of the importance of cultural heritage;
  5. Expresses its continuing concern at the damage caused to the cultural heritage of Yemen as a result of armed conflict, and that the Old City of Sana’a has incurred irreversible destruction and continues to be vulnerable, owing to the current security situation, ongoing social change and continuing lack of support and resources for both heritage management and physical conservation;
  6. Notes the actions taken to address unauthorized construction of new buildings within the property, which incrementally affect the OUV of the property, also requests the State Party to continue to consult the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in order to ensure that restoration and reconstruction works at the property meet basic technical requirements, and further requests the State Party to submit details for new buildings and new projects to the World Heritage Centre, for examination by the Advisory Bodies, prior to initiating any construction works, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  7. Encourages the State Party to continue its collaboration with the UNESCO Doha Office in the implementation of the Cash for Work: Promoting Livelihood Opportunities for Urban Youth in Yemen project;
  8. Reiterates the need for a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to advise on repair and conservation works, and to contribute to the development of a set of corrective measures and a timeframe for their implementation, as well as the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR), as soon as the security situation in Yemen has improved;
  9. Urges all parties involved in the conflict to refrain from any further action that would cause damage to the cultural heritage and the OUV of the property and to fulfil their obligations under international law by taking all possible measures to protect such heritage, in particular the safeguarding of properties on the World Heritage List and those included in the Tentative List of Yemen, and also encourages all concerned stakeholders to unite for the preservation of cultural heritage in Yemen;
  10. Reiterates its previous calls to the international community to provide technical and financial support, including through the UNESCO Heritage Emergency Fund, for the implementation of the Emergency Action Plan for the Safeguarding of Yemen’s Cultural Heritage, adopted at the UNESCO expert meeting in July 2015, including funding for capacity building and first-aid restoration and protection measures, and calls on the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to continue providing technical assistance and support where needed;
  11. Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2020, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 44th session in 2020;
  12. Decides to retain Old City of Sana'a (Yemen) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
43 COM 8C.2
Update of the List of World Heritage in Danger (Retained Properties)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC/19/43.COM/7A, WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add, WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add.2, WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add.3 and WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add.3.Corr),
  2. Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger:
  • Afghanistan, Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley (Decision 43 COM 7A.41)
  • Afghanistan, Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam (Decision43 COM 7A.42)
  • Austria, Historic Centre of Vienna (Decision 43 COM 7A.45)
  • Bolivia (Plurinational State of), City of Potosí (Decision 43 COM 7A.48)
  • Central African Republic, Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park (Decision 43 COM 7A.5)
  • Côte d'Ivoire / Guinea, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Decision 43 COM 7A.6)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Garamba National Park (Decision 43 COM 7A.7)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Decision 43 COM 7A.8)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Decision 43 COM 7A.9)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Salonga National Park (Decision 43 COM 7A.10)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Virunga National Park (Decision 43 COM 7A.11)
  • Egypt, Abu Mena (Decision 43 COM 7A.17)
  • Honduras, Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Decision 43 COM 7A.4)
  • Indonesia, Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (Decision 43 COM 7A.1)
  • Iraq, Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) (Decision 43 COM 7A.18)
  • Iraq, Hatra (Decision 43 COM 7A.19)
  • Iraq, Samarra Archaeological City (Decision 43 COM 7A.20)
  • Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (site proposed by Jordan) (Decision 43 COM 7A.22)
  • Kenya, Lake Turkana National Parks (Decision 43 COM 7A.12)
  • Libya, Archaeological Site of Cyrene (Decision 43 COM 7A.23)
  • Libya, Archaeological Site of Leptis Magna (Decision 43 COM 7A.24)
  • Libya, Archaeological Site of Sabratha (Decision 43 COM 7A.25)
  • Libya, Old Town of Ghadamès (Decision 43 COM 7A.26)
  • Libya, Rock-Art Sites of Tadrart Acacus (Decision 43 COM 7A.27)
  • Madagascar, Rainforests of the Atsinanana (Decision 43 COM 7A.13)
  • Mali, Old Towns of Djenné (Decision 43 COM 7A.53)
  • Mali, Timbuktu (Decision 43 COM 7A.54)
  • Mali, Tomb of Askia (Decision 43 COM 7A.55)
  • Micronesia (Federated States of), Nan Madol: Ceremonial Centre of Eastern Micronesia (Decision 43 COM 7A.43)
  • Niger, Aïr and Ténéré Natural Reserves (Decision 43 COM 7A.14)
  • Palestine, Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines – Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir (Decision 43 COM 7A.30)
  • Palestine, Hebron/Al-Khalil Old Town (Decision 43 COM 7A.29)
  • Panama, Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Decision 43 COM 7A.50)
  • Peru, Chan Chan Archaelogical Zone (Decision 43 COM 7A.51)
  • Senegal, Niokolo-Koba National Park (Decision 43 COM 7A.15)
  • Serbia, Medieval Monuments in Kosovo (Decision 43 COM 7A.46)
  • Solomon Islands, East Rennell (Decision 43 COM 7A.2)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Aleppo (Decision 43 COM 7A.31)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Bosra (Decision 43 COM 7A.32)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Damascus (Decision 43 COM 7A.33)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient Villages of Northern Syria (Decision 43 COM 7A.34)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din (Decision 43 COM 7A.35)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Site of Palmyra (Decision 43 COM 7A.36)
  • Uganda, Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi (Decision 43 COM 7A.56)
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (Decision 43 COM 7A.47)
  • United Republic of Tanzania, Selous Game Reserve (Decision 43 COM 7A.16)
  • United States of America, Everglades National Park (Decision 43 COM 7A.3)
  • Uzbekistan, Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz (Decision 43 COM 7A.44)
  • Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Coro and its Port (Decision 43 COM 7A.52)
  • Yemen, Historic Town of Zabid (Decision 43 COM 7A.38)
  • Yemen, Old City of Sana’a (Decision 43 COM 7A.39)
  • Yemen, Old Walled City of Shibam (Decision 43 COM 7A.40)
Draft Decision: 43 COM 7A.39

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add.2,
  2. Recalling Decision 42 COM 7A.38, adopted at its 42nd session (Manama, 2018),
  3. Commends the State Party and its agencies, including the General Organization for the Preservation of Historic Cities in Yemen (GOPHCY) on initiatives undertaken in capacity building, damage assessment, documentation and emergency interventions at the property, and requests that they continue to consult with UNESCO and the Advisory Bodies, and to restore damaged buildings, based on surveys and documentation, using traditional construction techniques and materials as much as possible, to avoid incrementally affecting the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property;
  4. Also commends the State Party and its agencies on initiatives undertaken to support and involve community and government organizations, and in campaigns to raise awareness of the importance of cultural heritage;
  5. Expresses its continuing concern at the damage caused to the cultural heritage of Yemen as a result of armed conflict, and that the Old City of Sana’a has incurred irreversible destruction and continues to be vulnerable, owing to the current security situation, ongoing social change and continuing lack of support and resources for both heritage management and physical conservation;
  6. Notes the actions taken to address unauthorized construction of new buildings within the property, which incrementally affect the OUV of the property, also requests the State Party to continue to consult the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in order to ensure that restoration and reconstruction works at the property meet basic technical requirements, and further requests the State Party to submit details for new buildings and new projects to the World Heritage Centre, for examination by the Advisory Bodies, prior to initiating any construction works, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  7. Encourages the State Party to continue its collaboration with the UNESCO Doha Office in the implementation of the Cash for Work: Promoting Livelihood Opportunities for Urban Youth in Yemen project;
  8. Reiterates the need for a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to advise on repair and conservation works, and to contribute to the development of a set of corrective measures and a timeframe for their implementation, as well as the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR), as soon as the security situation in Yemen has improved;
  9. Urges all parties involved in the conflict to refrain from any further action that would cause damage to the cultural heritage and the OUV of the property and to fulfil their obligations under international law by taking all possible measures to protect such heritage, in particular the safeguarding of properties on the World Heritage List and those included in the Tentative List of Yemen, and also encourages all concerned stakeholders to unite for the preservation of cultural heritage in Yemen;
  10. Reiterates its previous calls to the international community to provide technical and financial support, including through the UNESCO Heritage Emergency Fund, for the implementation of the Emergency Action Plan for the Safeguarding of Yemen’s Cultural Heritage, adopted at the UNESCO expert meeting in July 2015, including funding for capacity building and first-aid restoration and protection measures, and calls on the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to continue providing technical assistance and support where needed;
  11. Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2020, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 44th session in 2020;
  12. Decides to retain Old City of Sana'a (Yemen) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Report year: 2019
Yemen
Date of Inscription: 1986
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (iv)(v)(vi)
Danger List (dates): 2015-present
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2019) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 43COM (2019)
Exports

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


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