The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced on Wednesday that it will help rebuild and safeguard Mali’s destroyed cultural heritage sites.
On January 28 ,2013 ,Islamist extremists set fire to the cultural site in Timbuktu which was containing a library containing thousands of priceless historic manuscripts as they fled French and Malian forces closing in on Timbuktu.The UN body says that it will rebuild the site and protect it from similar attacks.
“This heritage is an integral part of the dignity and identity of its people,” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, “and it is our responsibility to restore it.”
The latest attacks on the West African country’s cultural heritage follow the destruction of at least three mausoleums last month.
“I am deeply distressed by the wanton destruction of Mali’s heritage that the world has witnessed in recent months,” Ms. Bokova said. “UNESCO will spare no effort in working with the people of Mali to recover what is rightfully theirs. We will help them rebuild the mausoleums of Timbuktu and the tomb of Askia in Gao.”
Ms. Bokova stressed that UNESCO would mobilize the expertise and resources to help the Malian people safeguard and preserve the ancient manuscripts that “testify to the region’s glorious past as a major centre of Islamic learning.”
UNESCO will send a team of experts to Mali to assess the damage and determine the most urgent tasks as soon as security conditions allow it, Ms. Bokova said. A special working group will also be established to draw up an action plan to guide reconstruction activities in the medium and long term.
Ms. Bokova also called on the leaders of Mali’s neighbouring countries, institutional partners including the International Police (Interpol), and all those involved with the art market, to mobilize against all attempts to smuggle manuscripts or other cultural artifacts out of the country.