News / Africa

UN Cites Extensive Damage to Timbuktu

A traditional mud structure stands in the Malian city of Timbuktu, May 15, 2012. Al-Qaida-linked Mali Islamists armed with Kalashnikovs and pick-axes began destroying prized mausoleums of saints in Timbuktu on June 30, 2012, witnesses said.
A traditional mud structure stands in the Malian city of Timbuktu, May 15, 2012. Al-Qaida-linked Mali Islamists armed with Kalashnikovs and pick-axes began destroying prized mausoleums of saints in Timbuktu on June 30, 2012, witnesses said.
Margaret Besheer
The United Nations and Malian officials are warning that damage to that country’s cultural sites is greater than first thought. Officials say ancient mosques, mausoleums and manuscripts in the city of Timbuktu have been damaged or destroyed after rebels in the north of country rose up against the government last year.

Malian and international experts visited Timbuktu in the past two weeks and on Friday told reporters in the Malian capital, Bamako, that the destruction was alarming.

Lazare Eloundou-Assomo of the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization - UNESCO - who was part of the mission, said that more mausoleums and mosques were destroyed than anticipated and that a general lack of maintenance has also led to the decay of cultural treasures.

Experts say over four thousand manuscripts from the Ahmed Baba research center have been lost.

Eloundou Assomo spoke about the ancient texts.

“We were able to note that there are now very few manuscripts on view in the libraries in Timbuktu. Many were safeguarded during this period. Some took risks to secure these manuscripts. Many of them are safe, but as professionals this is a problem for us. We have to work progressively toward better preserving them and providing better security for them in Bamako and elsewhere,” said Assomo.

Mali’s Culture Minister, Bruno Maiga, lamented the lost manuscripts and the destruction to Mali’s cultural heritage.

“What was destroyed cannot be recovered; it’s paper and it’s destroyed. When it is burnt, it’s burnt. In future we must prevent documents being burned, but that was not the case in the past. What’s been burned is totally destroyed.

He said some surviving manuscripts have fallen into the hands of armed groups, and in one case he heard the military caught a group trying to sell them.

The mission to Timbuktu aimed to gather first-hand information on what will be needed to repair, rebuild and protect the city’s cultural heritage. In February, a meeting of Malian, U.N. and French experts estimated $11 million would be needed for this task. But UNESCO’s Eloundou Assomo said the experts would now be revising this estimate after visiting the region and seeing the extensive destruction.

You May Like

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs