WMF Statement on Safeguarding Cultural Heritage in Lalibela, Ethiopia
At World Monuments Fund (WMF), we are deeply concerned by the news that the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has seized control of Lalibela, Ethiopia, a United Nations World Heritage Site.
Inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1978, Lalibela is home to a magnificent and unique complex of 11 churches cut out of the living rock some 800 years ago. For World Monuments Fund, Lalibela’s rock-hewn churches count among our earliest and longest-running projects. Since the 1960s, we have helped to train the local workforce in management and conservation techniques to ensure a sustainable model for the preservation of these extraordinary structures.
At World Monuments Fund, we are dedicated to working with communities around the world to safeguard our shared history. Through our work around the globe, we have seen how the destruction of cultural heritage irrevocably harms both local and global communities. Cultural heritage should never become a pawn or a target in armed conflict. Therefore, we ask all parties to protect Ethiopia’s extraordinary cultural heritage, including the irreplaceable rock-hewn churches at Lalibela.