Ancient cave paintings at an African Unesco heritage site in north-eastern Chad have been defaced with graffiti.

The graffiti comprises names in French and Arabic scrawled on top of the cave paintings. It is suspected that it was made by local youths. Now a team has been sent to the site to assess the damage. According to Abdelkerim Adoum Bahar, head of the UN’s cultural body in Chad the damage could be repaired.

The Ennedi plateau, where the 8,000-year-old cave paintings are, was declared a Unesco world heritage site in 2016. Chad’s minister of culture, art and tourism, Mahamat Saleh Haroun, commenting on the incident described it as “offensive to the whole history and memory of Chad”.

The cave paintings at the Ennedi plateau include rock carvings into the surface of caves, canyons, and shelters in the area, representing everyday scenes from a time the area was not a desert.