Yemen: Floods cause massive damage to UNESCO-listed ancient houses in Sanaa city

August 12, 2020

Yemen has been witnessing incessant rain and flash floods since mid-April which have brought major damage to the ancient houses and other sites in the UNESCO-listed city of Sanaa. The distinctive brown and white mud-brick houses in Sanaa date back to before the 11th Century. These houses, along with other heritage sites, have survived hundreds of years of crisis, despair and violence of war. However, in the past few weeks, heavy rainfall and severe flash floods have washed away several houses and collapsed the roofs of hundreds of buildings in the capital city.

It is important to note that these old buildings have not received proper maintenance in the past few years. Speaking to media, Aqeel Saleh Nassar, deputy head of the Historic Cities Preservation Authority, stated that citizens have not taken proper care of these buildings for several years which has weakened and damaged the foundation of the historic structures.

Taking note of the damage caused to the houses in the aftermath of the flooding, the General Organisation for the Preservation of Historic Cities of Yemen (GOPHCY) has urged the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to take immediate actions to protect the historic capital city of Sanaa.

As per Saba news agency, a statement has been submitted by GOPHCY to UNESCO, in which the Yemeni organization has raised awareness about the catastrophic crises that old buildings in Sanaa have been facing which is further threatening the existence of city’s heritage. It further appealed to the international community to save the heritage site.

“The old buildings of Sana’a that survived hundreds of years could be lost at any moment, due to the persistence of heavy and unprecedented rains which resulted in a near-total collapse of a number of inhabited buildings,” GOPHCY reportedly said in the statement.

UNESCO added the old city of Sanaa to its list of World Heritage sites in 1986.

According to reports, more than 100 people have been killed in the heavy rains in war-torn Yemen. Thousands of people have lost their homes, businesses and personal belongings in the floods.

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