In war-torn Ukraine, Unesco fights to protect a beetroot soup

Why is that so Unesco sweat for a soup even as the war rages on Ukraine? Because, “borscht” is more of a legacy of fear of being wiped out, than a mere dish. After recording Ukrainian traditions about soup Inscribed on the list of “Intangible Cultural Heritage in urgent need of protection” in July this year, Unesco is working to protect the art of making banh cuon.
Borscht is a popular sour soup in Eastern Europe and the word is associated with a variation of the soup originating from Ukraine, which is made from one of the main ingredients, red beets. Unesco is also working in other countries where Ukrainian refugees have taken refuge.
In an exclusive interview from Paris, the Unesco director of Intangible cultural heritage (ICH) Tim Curtis told TOI that in an effort to protect Ukraine’s living heritage in the midst of the ongoing conflict, Unesco has carried out emergency projects in countries such as Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Romania, Moldova, Austria, where millions of refugees have to be resettled.
“Borscht is in the process of creating a Unesco Representative List. Then war broke out. There is a provision in the Convention on Extreme Emergencies and the Ukrainian authorities have asked us to treat this element as a case of extreme emergency. Their argument is that borscht is fundamental to all Ukrainians. Ukraine has many different languages ​​and many different ethnic groups. But what they had in common was that and through relocation, it became seriously dangerous. In a sense, what they are saying is that their Ukrainian identity is at stake,” Curtis said.
“We are doing some work with Ukraine, also on sites, on built heritage sites, including scanning over satellite sites that are being destroyed, etc. But with intangible cultural heritage. Maybe, right now we have a bit of difficulty working in the country. We are working remotely online with the authorities in Ukraine so that they continue to inventory their intangible cultural heritage in the country,” added Curtis.
Curtis cites the example of Poland – home to the largest number of Ukrainian refugees – where Unesco has developed teaching modules for local schools to incorporate traditional Ukrainian elements into the education system. their. “We’re working with them to try to provide specialists to see what kind of activities can help lift spirits, bring a sense of normalcy to people going through this,” he said.
On the importance of protecting the intangible cultural heritage of conflict-prone areas, Curtis said, “The first effort is to protect people. But very soon, it was vitally important for people displaced in times of conflict and trouble to turn to the things that had helped them essentially over the centuries. ”


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