World Heritage Committee condemns destruction of Mali sites


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The Committee also asked Mali’s neighbours to help prevent the trafficking in cultural objects from the sites, and urged the African Union and the international community to do everything possible to help protect Timbuktu, inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1988.

New York-- The World Heritage Committee has condemned the destruction of sites in Mali – including in the fabled city of Timbuktu – and decided on measures to help the West African country protect its heritage, including the creation of a special fund to help it conserve its cultural heritage.

“The decision strongly condemned the acts of destruction of mausoleums in the World Heritage property of Timbuktu and called for an end to these ‘repugnant acts,” the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said in a news release today.

Fighting between Government forces and Tuareg rebels resumed in northern Mali in January. The instability and insecurity resulting from the renewed clashes, as well as the proliferation of armed groups in the region, and a deepening crisis due to a coup d'état in March, have uprooted nearly 320,000 people, with many of them fleeing to neighbouring countries.

There had been reports earlier this year of rebel groups looting centres containing thousands of ancient books and documents in Timbuktu. In addition, there have been reports of the destruction of three sacred tombs – the Mausoleums of Sidi Mahmoud, Sidi Moctar and Alpha Moya – that are part of the Timbuktu site, which was an intellectual and spiritual capital and a centre for the propagation of Islam throughout Africa in the 15th and 16th centuries.

The 21-member Committee came to its decision yesterday in St. Petersburg, where it has been holding its 36th session. It meets once a year, and is responsible for the implementation of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, which defines the kind of natural or cultural sites which can be considered for inscription on the World Heritage List.

Late last week, it had accepted a request from the Government of Mali to place Timbuktu, as well as the Tomb of Askia, on the List of World Heritage in Danger, which is designed to inform the international community of threats to the outstanding universal values for which a property has been inscribed on the World Heritage List, and to encourage corrective action.

The Committee also asked Mali’s neighbours to help prevent the trafficking in cultural objects from the sites, and urged the African Union and the international community to do everything possible to help protect Timbuktu, inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1988.



 

 

 

 

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