France’s President Emmanuel Macron is due to visit Ethiopia’s historic city of Lalibela later today, following a request by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to help with the “preservation” of its centuries-old churches, the French embassy in Addis Ababa has said.
There is growing concern about the condition of the city’s 11 rock-hewn churches, with Unesco saying that most of them listed as world heritage sites are in a “critical condition”.
“The drainage ditches were filled up with earth for several centuries, before being cleared in the 20th century, and have been disrupted by seismic activity,” Unesco says on its website .
“This has resulted in a severe degradation of the monuments from water damage, and most of them are now considered to be in a critical condition,” it adds.
Mr Macron is expected to announce details of how France would help with the restoration of the churches after his visit to the 13th Century city. Mr Macron and Mr Abiy are also due to sign economic and defence agreements.
The French leader is in Ethiopia as part of his four-day visit to three African states.
He arrived from Djibouti, and Kenya is next on his itinerary.