Ethiopia: “The sanctity Protecting the Site and City of Lalibela Has Been Shattered”

Soukaina Sghir
Soukaina Sghir
1 Min Read

The Ethiopian federal army regained control of Lalibela in the Amhara region, following the departure of local militias who had previously seized the city. These conflicts have raised serious concerns about the Orthodox churches in this holy city, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978.

Researchers Marie Bridonneau and Marie-Laure Derat, co-directors of the “Sustainable Lalibela” project, provide an update on the situation of the site and its conservation efforts.

The recent clashes between the Ethiopian army and Amhara militias Fano in Lalibela have sparked significant apprehension for the Orthodox churches in the city, which have held UNESCO World Heritage status since 1978.

Although these rock-hewn structures dating back to the early 13th century were not directly hit, the fighting came perilously close and compelled a halt to conservation efforts.

Beyond its sacred significance, the site was one of Ethiopia’s main tourist attractions until the onset of the Tigray War in 2020. Researchers Marie Bridonneau and Marie-Laure Derat co-direct the “Sustainable Lalibela” project, implemented by the French Center for Ethiopian Studies in Addis Ababa. The project aims to locally train workers to carry out conservation work.

Soukaina Sghir

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