The value of rebuilding Timbuktu, a unique intellectual and spiritual capital rich in cultural treasures, is priceless for both Mali’s post-conflict recovery and for its significance for global patrimony. However $8 million is still required for the actual restoration costs, according to Lazare Eloudou Assomo, UNESCO Representative to Mali and global expert on the iconic World Heritage site.
“It’s a long and complex task,” said Eloudou, at a press conference at the United Nations in New York on 30 June. He noted that the first stage in the rehabilitation of the cultural heritage of Timbuktu, launched on 14 March, is complete. However, to date only $3 million of the estimated $11 million to complete the project has been raised.
“We want the community to rebuild their own heritage. It’s not just about rebuilding stones. It’s also about keeping the cultural significance and keeping the role that the mausoleum had in structuring the life of the community,” Eloudou said.
UNESCO in partnership with Switzerland, the European Union and other donors have embarked on an ambitious plan supporting the Mali government’s work in rehabilitating cultural heritage and safeguarding manuscripts in and around Timbuktu that were severely damaged in the conflict that took place in the country between 2012 and 2013.
“A community’s cultural heritage reflects its life, history and identity. Its preservation helps to rebuild broken communities, re-establish their identities, and link their past with their present and future,” said Vibeke Jensen, Director of the UNESCO Office in New York, adding, “By damaging and destroying cultural heritage of a community, one is in fact not only destroying the past but very much the future. At UNESCO we know that a community’s cultural heritage reflects its life, history and identity. Its preservation helps to rebuild broken communities, re-establish their identities, and link their past with their present and future.”