• BBC News

Lalibela UNESCO World Heritage Site Taken by Tigray TPLF Forces

August 5, 2021

Rock-hewn church from the town of Lalibela, a UNESCO World Heritage site [Photo Credit: Getty Images]

Cited article by BBC News


HRRC's Response:


Fighting between the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) forces and the Ethiopian military has now spread from the Tigray region of Northern Ethiopia, into the neighboring regions of Amhara and Afar. This violence has resulted in thousands killed, millions displaced, and accusations of human rights violations and war crimes conducted by both TPLF and Ethiopian military and ally forces.


The town of Lalibela is designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Within the town are 11 medieval cave churches carved out of the stone dating back to the 12th and 13th centuries. These churches were designated a world heritage site in 1978. There have not been any reports of gunfire or fighting in the town, however residents have fled the town raising concern for the safety of the heritage site.


HRRC condemns any act that threatens or causes harm to cultural heritage sites. The act of targeting heritage sites is a war crime under the Rome Statute. Any act that intentionally or unnecessarily place cultural heritage (including religious and historic buildings) at risk is a detriment to all humankind and the local culture more significantly.