SCOLMA Statement on the Situation in Mali

SCOLMA Statement on the Situation in Mali

SCOLMA (the UK Libraries and Archives Group on Africa) adds its voice to the deep concern expressed in many quarters about current events in Mali. In particular, we share the concerns raised by the International Committee of the Blue Shield and the UNESCO World Heritage Committee about the actual and potential loss of Mali’s cultural heritage.

Following a coup in Mali in March 2012, opposition forces have taken over a large part of the north of the country. Timbuktu, which is a World Heritage Site, is currently under the control of Ansar Dine. This organisation was responsible for the destruction of ancient graves and the door to a mosque in Timbuktu in late June.

SCOLMA is deeply concerned about the humanitarian implications of the current situation in Mali, where there have been some casualties, and many more people have been forced to flee their homes. As librarians and archivists, we are also particularly worried about the fate of the many thousands of manuscripts preserved in Timbuktu in both institutions and many
private collections. This material is of great international significance and
constitutes a key part of Africa’s literary, historical and cultural heritage. Current events have already compromised the storage conditions in which many of these items are held, and we fear that they may become a target of deliberate destruction.

SCOLMA therefore calls on all parties to respect Mali’s cultural heritage, including supporting the efforts of Malian archivists and librarians to safeguard these priceless collections. We also call on all parties to respect and safeguard the lives and livelihoods of civilians during the current conflict.

August 2012
SCOLMA is the UK Libraries and Archives Group on Africa (www.scolma.org).

For the International Committee of the Blue Shield:
http://www.icomos.org/en/what-we-do/disseminating-knowledge/newsletters/475-blue-shield-statement-on-mali

For the UNESCO World Heritage Committee:
http://whc.unesco.org/en/news/907

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