A historic section of the capital of Yemen, Sana’a, which has recently become a stronghold for Houthi rebels was bombed on May 11th by a coalition of Saudi-led Arab states. The World Heritage site that has been inhabited for more than two Milena contains over 6,000 houses, hammams, and mosques built before the eleventh century, and was recently restored by UNESCO in the 1980s. It is one of the four World Heritage sites in Yemen and have been on the UNESCO tentative list for 13 years.
The coalition also carried out several airstrikes in Saa’dah, partially destroying Al-Hadi Mosque, the oldest Islamic learning center in the center of the Arabian Peninsula at 1,100 years old, and on the city of Barakish. “I condemn these destruction and I call on all parties to keep cultural heritage out of the conflict,” says UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova in a statement that asked those fighting to respect international treaties, namely, the 1954 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and the 1972 World Heritage Convention. “I am particularly distressed by the news concerning air strikes on heavily populated areas such as the cities of Sana’a and Saa’dah,” she continued. “In addition to causing terrible human suffering, these attacks are destroying Yemen’s unique cultural heritage, which is the repository of people’s identity, history, and memory, and an xceptional testimony to the achievements of the Islamic civilization.”