President Michel Suleiman and Cabinet Ministers Salim Warde and Fadi Abboud have signed a petition to keep north Lebanon’s Qadisha Valley on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. By Monday, 5,900 people from around the world had signed the petition, An Nahar daily said.
The valley, which has been the site of monastic communities since the earliest years of Christianity, was under the threat of removal from the list.
Because of violations in the valley, UNESCO’s World Heritage Center warned Lebanon that it would put the area on the List of World Heritage in Danger which is the first step in dropping it from the World Heritage List.
“The monasteries of the Qadisha Valley are the most significant surviving examples of the fundamental demonstration of Christian faith,” says the UNESCO website.
However, violations, such as picnics, restaurants and other building projects in the area, are tarnishing the valley’s image. Even all-terrain vehicle (ATV) races are taking place at the valley’s entrances and sewage is flowing into it.
Such violations have led the World Heritage Center to ask the Lebanese government to turn the site into a natural reserve that would fall under its full protection.
An Nahar said Culture Minister Wardeh has asked the environment ministry to cooperate in this regard “to deal with the deteriorating environmental situation” there.