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Date [ 2014-06-03, 06:06 ]

UNESCO steps in to shore up the country’s history.

Minaret of the Djingarey Ber Mosque Timbuctu, Mali

(Kuala Lumpur=Koreanpress) Liew Lai Keen = With Timbuktu and the Tomb of Askia on the List of World Heritage in Danger since 2012 and four UN Security Council Resolutions (2100, 2056, 2071 and 2085) issued for the protection of cultural heritage in northern Mali, UNESCO continues mobilizing the international community to safeguard Mali’s endangered cultural heritage and ancient manuscripts.

The recent 1.1 million USD donation from the Government of Switzerland together with the 670,000 USD grant from the European Union brings the contributions to UNESCO’s Action for Mali up to 3 million USD. An estimated 11 million USD is needed to carry out the UNESCO Action Plan for the Safeguarding of Cultural Heritage in Mali, which was adopted by the Government of Mali in February 2013. Reconstruction work begun on March 14, 2013 and carried out on Sheik Baber Baba Idjé and Sheik Mahamane Al Fullani mausoleums of Timbuktu.

The restoration was completed in mid-April, and activities will continue with the restoration of private libraries in northern Mali In response to the conflict taking place in the northern regions of Mali since April 2012, UNESCO, in collaboration with the National Directorate of Cultural Heritage in Mali and the International Centre for Earthen Architecture (CRAterre), has produced two publications on the cultural heritage of Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal.

The first is an illustrated map with detailed texts in two formats (A3-doublesided and poster versions). The second publication is a brochure entitled "Passeport pour le patrimoine” (Heritage Passport). Available in French, they provide detailed information on the location and the importance of cultural sites in the northern region of Mali. They were developed to raise awareness among the armed forces, NGOs, the international community and local communities about the importance of safeguarding these heritage sites.

During a World Heritage Centre mission to Bamako in December 2012, UNESCO distributed these new information materials to military and humanitarian organizations in Mali. They are now being distributed to all countries involved in the military operation underway in Mali since the beginning of 2013.

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova announced on January 30, 2014 that UNESCO will do everything possible to safeguard and rebuild Mali’s extraordinary cultural heritage, which she described as “a vital part of the country’s identity and history and fundamental for its future. Its restoration and reconstruction will give the people of Mali the strength and the confidence to rebuild national unity and look to the future.”

Additionally, on May 30, 2014, the Director-General visited Mali with French President François Hollande, with the goal to launch the assessment of the state of Mali’s cultural heritage and manuscripts after the recent fighting and tensions. The aim was to define a plan of action with the Government of Mali that will guide UNESCO’s support on its reconstruction and safeguard of its invaluable cultural heritage.

Restoration works in Timbaktu.

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