Christ birthplace placed on UNESCO's heritage in danger list

The Church of Nativity in the Palestinian city of Bethlehem, believed to be the birthplace of Jesus Christ, has been placed on a list of world heritage sites in danger by the UN cultural body UNESCO.

The church, which sits on a site that is identified by Christian tradition as the birthplace of Jesus, and the pilgrimage route on the site is suffering from damages due to water leaks, UNESCO said.

A church was first completed on the site in 339 AD and the edifice that replaced it after a fire in the 6th century retains elaborate floor mosaics from the original edifice.

The site, situated 10 kilometres south of Jerusalem, includes the church as well as Latin, Greek Orthodox, Franciscan and Armenian convents and churches as well as bell towers and terraced gardens.

The Palestinians had pressed to include the church and pilgrimage route in the danger list at the meeting of the World Heritage 21-nation committee in St. Petersburg, Russia.
The list of World Heritage in Danger is designed to inform the international community of threats to the outstanding universal values for which a property has been inscribed, and to encourage corrective action.

UNESCO's World Heritage Committee also inscribed sites from Israel, Palau, Indonesia, Morocco, China, Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire on the World Heritage List.

The Nahal Me'arot/Wadi el-Mughara Caves at Mount Carmel in Israel covers 54 hectares and contains cultural deposits representing 500,000 years of human evolution with evidence of burials, early stone architecture and the transition from a hunter-gathering lifestyle to agriculture and animal husbandry.

The Rock Islands Southern Lagoon in Palau contains 445 uninhabited limestone islands of volcanic origin, and also counts with a complex reef system featuring over 385 coral species and different types of habitat.

The site harbours the highest concentration of marine lakes anywhere and isolated bodies of  seawater separated from the ocean by land barriers.

Five rice terraces and their water temples in Bali, Indonesia, were also recognized for their cooperative water management system, known as subak, which dates back to the 9th century.

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