International community supports UNESCO’s #Unite4Heritage campaign in Timbuktu

Ambassadors and representatives of Morocco, South Africa, the European Union, France, Germany, Switzerland and the World Bank brought their support to UNESCO’s #Unite4Heritage campaign in a visit to the World Heritage site of Timbuktu.

The visitors, with local masons, placed a symbolic brick for the reconstruction of the mausoleums of Timbuktu during the event on 8 April. The visit was organized by UNESCO in cooperation with the authorities of Mali and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

The reconstruction of the Timbuktu’s World Heritage monuments has entered its final stage. Launched in March last year, the rehabilitation of the 14 mausoleums that were destroyed by armed groups in 2012, is scheduled to be completed in July 2015.

Work is underway in the three mausoleums located in the cemeteries of the three saints (Sheikh Sidi Ben Amar, Sheikh Abdoul Kasim Al Taouati, and Sheikh Sidi El Mikki), as well as the mausoleums of Alpha Moya, Sidi Mahmoud, El Moktar, El Boukkou, and others scattered around the city.

The reconstruction draws on technical and architectural studies of the site, with local masons using traditional building techniques to respect the integrity of the monuments. The project places local communities at the heart of the rehabilitation process and aims to preserve the heritage value of the mausoleums for the inhabitants of Timbuktu.

The work is part of an Action Plan developed by UNESCO and Mali in February 2013 with the support of France and funding from partners such as Switzerland and the European Union. Their contribution has provided for the implementation and coordination of the restoration of the site. The MINUSMA has brought logistical support to the project.

The mausoleums bear witness to the economic, intellectual and spiritual Golden Age of Timbuktu in the 15th and 16th centuries. They are exceptional examples of earthen architecture whose upkeep had been ensured by the inhabitants of the city until they were deliberately stopped by occupying armed groups. Sixteen such monuments are included in the Malian site inscribed on the World Heritage List.