The conflict in Mali represents a critical threat to the country’s precious cultural heritage, including the unrivalled collection of Islamic manuscripts in Timbuktu and centuries-old mosques and shrines, many of which have suffered severe damage. UNESCO has worked carefully to protect Mali’s cultural heritage sites and raise awareness about the importance of safeguarding the sites for future generations.
- In early 2013, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova visited Mali where she called for the complete restoration of all damaged heritage sites. A dedicated information kit illustrates the scale of the challenge that UNESCO was prepared to take up.
- In February 2013, the Government of Mali and UNESCO established an action plan, following the International Experts Meeting for the Safeguarding of Mali’s Cultural Heritage. Action points were defined, on the basis of findings from a final report, summarizing everything that was known about the status of heritage sites
- UNESCO worked closely with the Government of Mail to produce a ‘Heritage Passport’, mapping out the country’s priceless cultural heritage. The Passport was distributed throughout the country to assist the armed forces and NGO workers in locating and protecting the sites (in French only)
- In June 2013, UNESCO’s mission assessed damage to heritage sites in Bamako and Timbuktu : 15 shrines among which 9 are World Heritage sites were destroyed. 4200 manuscripts which used to be hosted at the Institut des Hautes Etudes et de Recherches Islamiques Ahmed Baba where burnt whereas some 300 000 run the risk of illicit trafficking if they fail to be protected. Watch images of this mission captured on this video
UNESCO is deeply committed to protecting culture in conflict situations. A number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites have been deliberately damaged, during conflict, to fuel hatred & block reconciliation. Our work in rehabilitating sites implies much more than architectural repairs -- it's about values, identities & belonging. We need to protect culture from attack. Protecting culture is protecting people, their way of life & providing them with essential resources to rebuild when war ends. UNESCO is mobilizing funds to restore peace reconciliation in Mali.