List of World Heritage in Danger is compiled by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) through the World Heritage Committee according to Article 11.4 of the World Heritage Convention, which was established in 1972 to designate and manage World Heritage Sites. There are 48 properties included in the List of the World Heritage in Danger by the Committee. Some of them are in the very heart of Europe, such as Medieval Serbian sites in Kosovo, which they are endangered by the Kosovo Albanian extremists.
Since the end of armed conflicts in June 1999 236 cultural and historic Serbian monuments have been attacked and severely damaged by the Kosovo Albanian extremists. As many as 61 of the abovementioned have the status of cultural monuments. 18 are of extreme importance for the Republic of Serbia, namely the Church of the Virgin Mary (1315), the Church of St. Nicholas (1331), the Church of the Holy Saviour (1348), the Hermitage and Monastery of St. Peter (early 13th century).
In the past 16 years:
• 174 sacred objects destroyed
• 33 cultural and historic monuments vandalized
• more than 10,000 frescoes and artistic objects stolen
• 5,261 headstones destroyed or damaged in 256 Serbian graveyards
• not a single headstone can now be found at more than 50 Serbian graveyards
The most violent of these destructive attacks took place in March 2004, in which not only historic monuments and places were destroyed but also targeted non-Albanian community. The result was the death tool of ten, more than 900 people severely injured, and over 4,000 Serbs and other non-Albanians exiled. 35 churches, 935 buildings, and 10 public facilities, including schools, post offices, and hospital were also destroyed. Despite all the efforts and presence of KFOR forces from 39 countries, and UN policemen from 52 countries, these attacks could not be prevented.
Four Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries are in the UNESCO List of the World Heritage in Danger. The Decani monastery was attacked with 18 missiles although it is in the list. Regular attacks, verbal provocations and the general atmosphere of intolerance continue to this day.
It is urgent that every one of us becomes aware and helps others understand the importance of these sad events – taking place today, in the heart of Europe – and help save the World Heritage Sites.
Read more in Amnesty International Report.