On 8 February 2013, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, held an information meeting with Member States on the status of World Heritage in Mali, following her return from a visit to Mali with French President François Hollande, on 2 February 2013.
The meeting was an opportunity to review the situation on the ground, in particular the state of the manuscripts and the mausoleums of Timbuktu, and to outline the broad lines of UNESCO’s action plan to safeguard and protect Mali's cultural heritage. The Director-General discusses her meeting with President Traoré, her visit to Bamako and Timbuktu, her visit to Ahmed Baba research centre and to the Djingareyber Mosque.
"Heritage must be at the heart of reconstruction and reconciliation in Mali. This is UNESCO's message and today I call on all Member States to support the people of Mali,” said the Director-General.
"I wish to express the gratitude of the authorities of my country,” underlined the representative of Mali. Your visit, Madam Director-General, was highly appreciated and the Malian people expect a lot from UNESCO. In Mali, part of world security is at stake," she continued. Her intervention was applauded by all delegations present.
The Ambassador of Gabon called for local authorities, experts and organizations of civil society to be heavily involved in this work: "they have the expertise and the knowledge to share, they will be key players in the success of our projects on the ground”.
For their part, many European countries are committed to support financially the action plan that UNESCO is currently developing for the reconstruction of destroyed heritage and the preservation of manuscripts - a project that Norway also supports. "This visit to Mali is a signal of support to the people of Mali and our efforts must focus on our areas of expertise, culture just as well as education," said the Austrian Delegation.
"You have placed UNESCO at the forefront, both at the heart of our mandate and at the front of UN action. We all know that part of the future of this Organization will depend on the results we achieve," said the Italian Delegation.
The Director-General announced the day of solidarity with Mali that will be held on 18 February 2013-- calling on all Member States to commit to fully support the UNESCO action plan. UNESCO will make the information related to the implementation of operations available on its website. UNESCO’s action plan and the projects financed by donors will also be accessible on the webpage dedicated to Mali.