30 January 2013 – The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today announced it will help rebuild and safeguard Mali’s cultural heritage, which has been the target of attacks during the current crisis.
“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.”
According to media reports, Islamist extremists set fire to a library in the city of Timbuktu containing thousands of historic manuscripts, many of them dating back to the 13th to 16th centuries. The manuscripts deal with subjects ranging from religious studies to mathematics, medicine, astronomy, music, literature, poetry, architecture and women’s and children’s rights.
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.”