France’s living proof of the grandeur of its history - Notre Dame Cathedral - caught on fire last night as restoration efforts were underway. The government officials have identified this as an accident and the firefighters were able to control the fire after nine hours of constant battle. In the meantime, all the important artifacts were saved and the stone structure of the cathedral has remained. The wooden roof collapsed due to the fire and several onlookers made videos as the cathedral’s spire fell down. Such instances are reminders of how important it is to indulge in the restoration efforts of our historical and cultural sites. French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to rebuild the cathedral described as the soul of the nation and expressed relief that “the worst had been avoided” in a blaze that had at one point threatened the entire edifice.

At the same time, Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem caught fire at the same time as the Notre Dame cathedral. The scale of the fire was not the same as that of Notre Dame and only a portion of Al-Aqsa caught fire. Restoration efforts should be underway for both sites. Donations have already started pouring in for Notre Dame, whereas, news from Jerusalem is taking time to disseminate. It is important to identify such historical structures and collaborate for restorative efforts. One of the major focuses of UNESCO is also the restoration and preservation of historical sites and such matters go beyond the bounds of borders, which is what we witnessed when a significant portion of the world population mourned together with France and Jerusalem. Prime Minister Imran Khan also expressed deep sorrow at the tragedy.

The historical heritage of the world should be granted the utmost importance and governments should be facilitated to understand preservation and restoration of delicate structures.