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Satellite-Based Damage Assessment of Cultural Heritage Sites 2015 Summary Report of Iraq, Nepal, Syria & Yemen

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Since the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between UNITAR-UNOSAT and UNESCO in June 2015, cultural heritage around the world has continued to suffer on an unprecedented scale from intentional attacks, collateral damage, widespread looting and the effects of natural disasters. Many of the countries affected by conflicts remain inaccessible, while those hit by disaster are also often hard to enter immediately.

However, thanks to their collaborative efforts, UNITAR-UNOSAT and UNESCO are now able to monitor damage to cultural heritage via satellite imagery, as shown in this report. While UNOSAT provides technical expertise in remote monitoring, UNESCO contributes to this partnership through its vast network of cultural heritage experts, who help identify damage and put it into context. Satellite images are then corroborated by data collected on the ground, where available.
Satellite imagery helps to clarify situations, deploy cultural first aid wherever it is most needed, if the security conditions allow, and plan for future recovery. This report provides a glimpse of the potential of this technology and cooperation between UNESCO and UNITAR-UNOSAT, which we hope will be considerably developed in the future.