CULTURE CANNOT WAIT: "Let's protect our heritage"
In the framework of the implementation of the Strategy for the Reinforcement of UNESCO's Action for the Protection of Culture and the Promotion of Cultural Pluralism in Times of Conflict, UNESCO and the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, inaugurated this Monday, October 12, 2018, the international training course "First Aid to Cultural Heritage in Times of Crisis" (FAC-AFRICA 2018), which takes place from 12 to 30 November 2018 at the Peacekeeping School (EMP) in Bamako.
The ceremony was presided over by Ms. Nina Wallet Intalou, Minister of Crafts and Tourism and Representative of Ms. Le Ministre de la culture, with Ms. Loubna BENHAYOUNE, Director of the Stabilization and Recovery Section of MINUSMA, representing Ms. Mbaranga Gasarabwe, Coordinator of the United Nations System in Mali; General Cheick Fanta Mady Dembélé, Director General of the Peacekeeping School; Mr. Ali Daou, Culture Program Officer, Representative of the Head of the UNESCO Office in Bamako; Ms. Aparna Tandon, Project Officer and Head of the FAC Program, ICCROM and Mr. Andogoly Guindo, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Culture.One could also note the presence of cultural actors, some twenty participants from all over the world, expert trainers and journalists mobilized for the occasion.
The ceremony was marked by the speakers advocating for the importance of taking culture into account in emergency interventions, by all actors, cultural or not. They thus highlighted the awareness-raising and capacity-building activities carried out by UNESCO and ICCROM, in Mali and throughout the world, on the threats to culture. To this end, Ms. Loubna BENHAYOUNE stressed that "culture is an integral part of human life and that we must protect it together". She also welcomed the strong mobilization of the various participants from nearly twenty countries around the world, all gathered to share their experiences in the field of heritage management, including prevention and management of risks and disasters in their respective institutions or countries. She concluded her speech by basing her hopes on the full success of the work but also by calling on the participants to share their knowledge and learn together how to implement emergency assistance to cultural heritage in the most complementary and integral way possible.
For Ms. Wallet Intalou, the choice of Mali for this course is both a sign of renewed confidence and recognition of the efforts of the Government of Mali in its choice to promote and safeguard its cultural heritage. On behalf of the Government of Mali, she thanked UNESCO and ICCROM for the choice of Mali to host this training and for all the actions that have helped to strengthen Mali's cultural heritage. Finally, she placed particular emphasis on the importance of preserving, safeguarding and promoting cultural heritage by stressing that: "heritage rehabilitation can contribute to healing the wounds of war and natural disasters, thus enabling communities to regain a sense of hope, dignity and autonomy".
It should be noted that UNESCO is the main financial partner of this course and is responsible for its material and logistical organization in collaboration with ICCROM and the Ministry of Culture of Mali. First Aid to Cultural Heritage in Times of Crisis (FAC) is a multi-partner program of ICCROM, which has developed a three-step framework for providing first aid to cultural heritage in emergencies: immediate and interrelated measures to stabilize and reduce the risks to movable, immovable and intangible heritage, in order to promote its recovery. This framework focuses on comprehensive risk assessment for the development of emergency preparedness and response and emphasizes the need for coordination between emergency actors and humanitarian assistance.
Experiences around the world demonstrate the spontaneous engagement of local communities in the protection of their cultural heritage. In Mali, despite the terrorist threat, thousands of manuscripts have been saved from destruction thanks to the mobilization of civil society. In Nepal, Kathmandu residents helped to rescue objects and temples destroyed in a massive earthquake in 2015. However, when is the right time to intervene and who can help? How can humanitarian relief and cultural heritage experts’ work together to enable, with the involvement of local communities, a coordinated and effective approach to their actions? Finding answers to these questions is the main objective of this international course on emergency assistance to cultural heritage in times of crisis (FAC).