Press Release

Ukraine: A. Azoulay and V. Zelensky together to rebuild the cultural sector

05 April 2023

Kyiv - UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay carried out a two-day mission to Ukraine, with visits to Kyiv, Chernihiv and Odesa, to reaffirm the Organization's support to the population and to advance the reconstruction of the country’s cultural sector. President Zelensky welcomed the “concrete results” of the emergency measures taken by UNESCO since the beginning of the war.

“Since the very first days of the war, UNESCO has stood by the Ukrainian people to help protect culture, heritage, education and the safety of journalists. These are the pillars of our humanity, of our identities; the pillars of the country’s recovery and of peace,” said Audrey Azoulay at a press briefing outside Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Repeatedly since February 2022, the Organization has reiterated that the targeting of cultural sites and schools violates international law. UNESCO has also deployed an emergency plan, funded to the tune of $30 million. It ranges from the delivery of protective equipment for monuments and works of art, to the distribution of more than 50,000 computers to enable teachers to continue teaching remotely as well as the provision of dozens of helmets and bullet-proof vests to journalists working in combat zones.

$6.9bn needed to restore culture

“This support will continue and increase in 2023,” announced Audrey Azoulay during a meeting with teachers in a school in Chernihiv, where she notably said that in the coming weeks UNESCO is mobilizing more than $10 million in additional funding to respond to the education emergency. One of the Organization's priorities in this area concerns the strengthening of psychosocial support for students in educational establishments.

The Director-General of UNESCO also presented figures on the impact of the war on all areas of culture over the past year. In particular, the Organization took stock of $2.6 billion in physical damages. “In order to rebuild but also to redress the situation, it will be necessary to invest $6.9 billion in the cultural sector in Ukraine over the next ten years," Audrey Azoulay further said on the sidelines of a working meeting with President Zelensky.

UNESCO and Ukraine to draw up recovery plan for cultural sector

At their meeting, the Ukrainian President welcomed measures already implemented by the Organization. “Sometimes there are only words. With UNESCO, there are concrete results,” he said. The President requested UNESCO to support in the Ukrainian authorities’ development of their recovery plan for the cultural sector, while continuing to coordinate and mobilize international actors in the field.

Audrey Azoulay concluded her visit to Ukraine in Odesa, whose historic centre was inscribed by UNESCO on the List of World Heritage in Danger in late January this year. Following the inscription, the Organization will further strengthen actions on the ground, prioritizing the preservation and digitization of artistic and documentary heritage while maintaining the protection of heritage buildings endangered by artillery fire.

UNESCO will also launch a vast project to improve the conservation of the city’s archaeological museum collections, thanks to the financial support of the Foundation of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière.

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