The count, last updated on March 30, has found that of those 53 sites, 29 were religious in nature, 16 were historic buildings, and 4 were monuments.
Among the damaged sites is the Drobitsky Yar Holocaust memorial. A large sculpture of a menorah stood there in remembrance of the at least 16,000 Jews that were mass murdered at Kharkiv, Ukraine. It is said to have been damaged by Russian forces on March 26.
UNESCO is tracking and verifying accounts of destruction via the use of satellite imagery, a spokesperson told NPR.
The Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov has been made aware of the location of the heritage sites. Additionally, cultural sites have been adorned with a blue shield communicating that they are under the protection of the Hague Convention of 1954, which both Ukraine and Russia signed. The convention prohibits the damage of cultural sites.
“Any violation of these norms will see the perpetrators brought to international responsibility,” Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO’s director general, wrote to Lavrov in a letter obtained by the French news source AFP.
UNESCO has also been working with the Ukrainian cultural sector to aid them in planning around how best to protect cultural artifacts.
“We assist them in identifying safe havens in which to store items which can be moved; and in assessing and strengthening fire fighting procedures,” a spokesperson told NPR. Several images of sculptures wrapped in protected material or secreted away to underground shelters have gone viral as Ukrainians fight to conserve their cultural heritage.