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Mohenjo-Daro will not be removed from the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites

Contrary to popular belief, Mohenjo-Daro’s restoration has begun and it will not be removed from the list

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Claim: Mohenjo-Daro will likely be removed from the list of World Heritage sites. 

Fact: Mohenjo-Daro was never under consideration for removal, and UNESCO has directed $350,000 to the recovery and restoration of heritage sites in Pakistan in the aftermath of the flood.

On 4 September 2022, a Facebook post claimed that Mohenjo-Daro will likely be removed from the list of World Heritage sites. Several other posts and mainstream news organizations such as Dawn and TribuneIndia also shared the misleading headline that UNESCO may delist it due to damage caused by torrential monsoon flooding, which engulfed more than one-third of the country.

So far, only three sites in the world have been delisted, according to the official website of the World Heritage Center.

Fact or Fiction?

Arabian Oryx Sanctuary is one of the three sites delisted by UNESCO. According to their official website, this was done because the Oman government decided to reduce the size of the protected area of the sanctuary by 90%. The wild population was reduced from 450 to only 65 due to excessive poaching and hunting, and the site was declared as having lost its value and integrity inscribed in its World Heritage site status. 

Another site which has been delisted is the Maritime Mercantile City in Liverpool, UK. According to the official website, this was done because the site had lost its historic value due to the Liverpool Waters project; several constructions were being made inside the site. 

Dresden Elbe Valley in Germany was removed from the list due to the construction of a four-lane bridge in the center of the site. 

These case studies clearly show that these sites are delisted because of  human intervention and government policies, not natural disasters. Dr Abdul Samad,  the  Director of Archaeology and Museums in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, told Soch Fact Check that delisting does not take place in the circumstances of natural disasters such as floods. He stated that the 2010 floods were also very devastating for architectural preservation but did not become a reason for the delisting. He further added that according to his knowledge, no official correspondence was made between UNESCO and Pakistan regarding the delisting of Mohenjo-Daro.

We also spoke to Ehsan Abbasi, the curator of Mohenjo-Daro, who clarified that the site has not suffered enough damage for it to qualify for delisting and that the restoration work has already begun. 

Soch Fact Check also received an official response from the press officer at the UNESCO headquarters, Thomas Mallard. Relevant excerpts from his response is as follows:

 

“In cooperation with the State Party of Pakistan, UNESCO Headquarters and its Office in Islamabad have been closely monitoring the state of conservation of these affected cultural sites and monuments, in view of providing necessary assistance in this emergency context, with intensive efforts in fundraising for necessary operations. A first amount of 350,000 USD has been mobilized by UNESCO to finance the most urgent actions”

“There has been so far no discussions on the listing of the Moenjodaro site on the List of World Heritage in Danger. The state of conservation of the World Heritage sites will be evaluated in light of the Outstanding Universal Value for which sites were inscribed on the List of World Heritage, and necessary advice will be provided to the State Party to ensure this Value.”

According to Mallard’s statement it is clear that “There has been so far no discussion on the listing of the Moenjodaro site on the List of World Heritage in Danger ”, which is the step before delisting of a site.

Virality

Soch Fact Check conducted a CrowdTangle analysis for the 7-day period since 4 September 2022 to 10 September 2022 using the following search terms:

  • “Mohenjo” “daro” “list”
  • “Mohenjo” “daro” “UNESCO”
  • “تقافتی” “موہیں جو دڑو” “سائٹ”

Apart from websites like the Daily Times, IndiaTV News, Times Now, The Shillong Times, The Current which shared misleading headlines about the potential for the site’s removal, we found several Facebook and Instagram posts sharing the same claim. Some of these can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. These posts gathered more than 37,929 interactions over both platforms and were shared with at least 4,680,110 social media on Instagram and Facebook.

Conclusion: Mohenjo-Daro will not be removed from UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites.

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