The Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage in Cyprus and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) signed a grant with a Swiss foundation worth close to million dollars on Monday for conservation works in Cyprus.

The two sites that will have conservation works done to them are St George of the Latins church in Famagusta and Tuzla mosque in Larnaca.

An event was organised at the Home for Cooperation for the signing of the grant of 840,335.29 USD from ALIPH (International alliance for the protection of heritage in conflict areas) to UNDP for this project.

This is the first partnership between the technical committee, UNDP and the Swiss foundation.

The Tuzla Mosque, located in the old part of Larnaca, was originally a mediaeval church built on the foundations of a basilica, which was converted into a mosque during the Ottoman period.

The church of Saint George of the Latins is the oldest Gothic architecture monument in Famagusta walled city.

Speaking at the event, Jakhongir Khaydarov, UNDP Cyprus head said: “UNDP in Cyprus is very pleased to have partnered with an international foundation such as ALIPH, which shares our values when it comes to the protection and preservation of cultural heritage. We hope that in the future we continue to take on meaningful projects together.”

The executive director of ALIPH, Valery Freland said that their first project in Cyprus is significant.

“Working with Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities to restore two important historical and remarkable sites embodies ALIPH’s mission: protecting heritage to build peace,” she said.

Greek Cypriot chair of the technical committee said Sotos Ktoris said this grant was a “message of peace”.

Ktoris’ Turkish Cypriot counterpart, Ali Tuncay, said that it was important to preserve the monuments from all the civilisations that have passed through Cyprus leaving a mark.

ALIPH was created in 2017 in response to the massive destruction of cultural heritage over the past two decades, predominantly in the Middle East and the Sahel.