UNESCO withdraws from Hanumandhoka Durbar Square temple restoration citing ‘threats to workers’

Jagannath and Gopinath temples of Hanumandhoka Durbar Square. Photo: UNESCO/File

Kathmandu, July 9

The United Nations’ cultural agency, UNESCO, says it will not support the restoration of two important monuments of Hanumandhoka Durbar Square in Kathmandu, which were destroyed by 2015 earthquake.

With the announcement, the restoration of Jagannath and Gopinath temples have been pushed into limbo.

Christian Manhart, UNESCO Representative to Nepal, says in a statement on Tuesday, “UNESCO is saddened to withdraw from the restoration project of these two important temples within the Kathmandu Valley World Heritage Site.”

The UN agency has blamed locals for the withdrawal, claiming they made threats to the restoration workers onsite as they were demanding that the temples be restored through local funds alone and without international assistance.

The agency claims the issue was settled in the presence of concerned government authorities, but locals did not obey the agreement.

“All documentation for the restoration work has been handed over to the care of the Department of Archaeology for completion according to international standards required for World Heritage Sites,” the statement reads, “UNESCO reiterates its readiness to support the restoration and safeguarding of Nepal’s cultural heritage sites.”

The work was being implemented by UNESCO, in close partnership with Nepal’s Department of Archaeology, and funding from the Japanese Government and Nepal Investment Bank Limited.

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